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Building 90 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401 Filed by: Randa Fahmy Hudome, Esq. 10401 Buckboard Place Potomac, MD 20854 (301) 765-8082 Email and Registered Mail
Dear Committee Members: Pursuant to Maryland State Code Section 15-515, I hereby file this complaint against the Honorable Rob Garagiola, State Senator for Maryland’s 15th District. As detailed below, Sen. Garagiola has violated provisions of the ethics laws governing the conduct of Members of the Maryland General Assembly. The citizens of Maryland deserve more transparency and accountability from our elected officials and it is your fiduciary responsibility to uphold the trust of those citizens who elected you. AFFIDAVIT Description of Violations Under Sections 15-601, 15-602, and 15-607 of the State Government Article, each member of the General Assembly is required to file a Financial Disclosure Statement with the State Ethics Commission under oath with specified information on or before April 30 of each year. Specifically, under §15-607(i), Members are required to disclose the sources of their earned income. According to public information available to the citizens of Maryland, Sen. Garagiola failed to do so for five years. Sen. Garagiola was elected in 2002. At the time, he was employed in the Washington, D.C. office of Greenberg Traurig, an international law firm whose office provides, among its other services, “political, legislative, and regulatory counsel before Congress and federal agencies.” 1 Sen. Garagiola was employed by Greenberg Traurig from 1999-2003. His duties at the firm included lobbying on behalf of the several different clients, including the Business Roundtable and various health industry groups. 2 On May 21, 2002 Sen. Garagiola filed the required financial disclosure forms for the reporting period between January 1 and December 31, 2001. Despite his employment with Greenberg Traurig during that period, Sen.
Garagiola did not disclose his employment as a lobbyist with the firm. Under the question “I or a member of my immediate family received a salary or was sole or partial owner of a business entity from which earned income was received, during the reporting period,” Sen. Garagiola checked “No.” 3 On April 28, 2003, Sen. Garagiola filed his financial disclosure forms for the reporting period between January 1 and December 31, 2002. Despite receiving $119,000 4in compensation from Greenberg Traurig during that time, Sen. Garagiola failed to disclose his employment as a lobbyist with the firm. Under the question “I or a member of my immediate family received a salary or was sole or partial owner of a business entity from which earned income was received, during the reporting period,” Sen. Garagiola checked “No.” 5 On April 26, 2004, Sen. Garagiola filed his financial disclosure forms for the reporting period between January 1 and December 31, 2003. Despite receiving $78,0006 in compensation from Greenberg Traurig during that time, Sen. Garagiola again failed to disclose his employment as a lobbyist with the firm. Under the question “I or a member of my immediate family received a salary or was sole or partial owner of a business entity from which earned income was received, during the reporting period,” Sen. Garagiola again checked “No.” 7 In addition to his employment as a lobbyist with Greenberg Traurig, Sen. Garagiola has admitted to failing to disclose his employment with law firm Stein Sperling Bennet De Jong Driscoll from 2003-2006. 8 Statement of Facts Sen. Garagiola has not disputed that he failed to disclose his outside income from both Greenberg Traurig and Stein Sperling until his 2007 disclosure form. Reporting this activity after the fact does not relieve his responsibilities from false reporting and therefore requiring the appropriate ethics investigation. He has stated that the omission of his outside income was the result of his misunderstanding of the financial disclosure forms, and that is was an inadvertent mistake. 9 By signing and filing these notarized forms, Sen. Garagiola affirmed under the penalties of perjury that the contents of the financial disclosures were “complete, true, and correct to the best of my knowledge, information, and belief.” 10 Not all Maryland officials agree that the forms were unclear or confusing. State Sen. Christopher Shank, R-Washington, has stated publicly that the forms were unambiguous: “To me it has been pretty straight forward. I’ve never owned a business, but I’ve always interpreted that you list your places of employment… If you have any questions about it, you err on the side of caution and ask somebody about it.” 11
If Sen. Garagiola had inquired with the Maryland State Ethics Commission on his interpretation of the form instructions, he would have been told that he was required to complete Schedule H and disclose his employment with Greenberg Traurig and Stein Sperling. Michael Lord, the Commission’s Executive Director, recently stated that not disclosing earned income would not have been the “advice we would give if asked.” 12 Furthermore, the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics recently stated that finding financial disclosure forms difficult to understand does not excuse failing to properly disclose outside earned income as required: While understanding that the Financial Disclosure Statement forms are complex and may be confusing, we reject Senator (Ulysses) Currie’s assertion that this is a sufficient excuse for failing to disclose… a significant source of his personal income for over five years. It is important to remember that all members of the General Assembly and thousands of other officials and employees of the State are required to file these same types of disclosure forms to and meet all statutory requirements. 13 In that case discussed in that report, the Joint Committee unanimously recommended censure for Sen. Currie, who failed to disclose his consulting arrangement with a large grocery store chain. Subsequently, the Maryland Senate appropriately voted to censure him. Like Sen. Garagiola, Sen. Currie admitted that his financial disclosures contained omissions, and testified that he found the forms “confusing.” 14 Despite apparently sharing Sen. Currie’s confusion, Sen. Garagiola voted in favor of censuring Sen. Currie. 15 Yet he is not being subject to the same censure by your committees. We the citizens of Maryland deserve to know why the joint committee has thus far chosen to ignore the almost identical facts in the case of Sen. Garagiola. Conclusion Maryland voters have the right to know about Sen. Garagiola’s work as a lobbyist and his employment with Greenberg Traurig and Stein Sperling. We were denied that right for five years. As the Joint Committee wrote less than a month ago, “The confidence and trust of the citizens of Maryland is a precondition of effective government.” 16 In order to restore that vital confidence and trust, you must hold Sen. Garagiola to the same standard the entire Senate held Sen. Currie. Accordingly, as a citizen of Maryland, I request the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics to immediately take action and hold Sen. Garagiola responsible for his failure to disclose his employment. I request that he be required to file an amendment to his financial disclosures to accurately reflect his work with Greenberg Traurig and Stein Sperling. I also request that the Committee discipline him for his violation of the ethics laws governing the conduct of Members of the Maryland General Assembly. Finally, this matter must rise to a vote in the Maryland State Senate – much like the Sen. Curry matter - so that the citizens of Maryland can be aware of Senator Garagiola’s behavior and
assess his fitness for office. Appendix Citations
Greenberg Traurig website, http://www.gtlaw.com/Locations/WashingtonDC. See, e.g., Greenberg Traurig Lobbying Report filed August 14, 2001 on lobbying activities for the Business Roundtable. Additional lobbying reports available via the Senate’s Lobbying Disclosure Act Database, http://soprweb.senate.gov/index.cfm?event=chooseFields&reset=1. 3 Financial Disclosure Statement, Form #1, filed by Rob Garagiola on May 21, 2002 for the reporting period January 1 – December 31, 2001. 4 Ben Pershing, Garagiola’s Lobbying Work Wasn’t Included on Maryland Ethics Forms form 2001 to 2003, Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2012, available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/garagiolas-lobbying-work-wasntincluded-on-maryland-ethics-forms-from-2001-to2003/2012/02/23/gIQAvbPdWR_story.html. 5 Member of General Assembly Financial Disclosure Statement, Form #19, filed by Rob Garagiola on April 28, 2003 for the reporting period January 1 – December 31, 2002. 6 Pershing, Garagiola’s Lobbying Work Wasn’t Included on Maryland Ethics Forms from 2001 to 2003. 7 Member of General Assembly Financial Disclosure Statement, Form #19, filed by Rob Garagiola on April 26, 2004 for the reporting period January 1 – December 31, 2003. 8 Daniel Menefee, Garagiola Says He Failed to Disclose Income for Six Years, Maryland Reporter, Feb. 26, 2012, available at http://marylandreporter.com/2012/02/26/sengaragiola-says-he-failed-to-disclose-income-for-six-years/. 9 See generally, Pershing, Garagiola’s Lobbying Work Wasn’t Included on Maryland Ethics Forms form 2001 to 2003. 10 See, e.g., 2003 Financial Disclosure Form. 11 Menefee, Garagiola Says He Failed to Disclose Income for Six Years. 12 Pershing, Garagiola’s Lobbying Work Wasn’t Included on Maryland Ethics Forms from 2001 to 2003. 13 Report of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, In re: State Senator Ulysses Currie, Feb 15, 2012, at 23. 14 Report of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, at 4. 15 SS 1, Seq. No. 229, Feb. 17, 2012, available at http://mlis.state.md.us/2012rs/votes/senate/0229.htm. 16 Report of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, at 22. Relevant Code Sections §15-601(a) – “Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, and subject to subsections (d) and (e) of this section, each official and candidate for office as a State official shall
file a statement as specified in §§15−602 through 15−608 of this subtitle.” §15-602(a) and (b) – (a) In general. — Except as otherwise provided in this subtitle, a statement filed under § 15−601, § 15−603, § 15−604, or § 15−605 of this subtitle shall: (1) be filed with the Ethics Commission; (2) be filed under oath; (3) be filed on or before April 30 of each year; (4) cover the calendar year immediately preceding the year of filing; and (5) contain the information required in § 15−607 of this subtitle. (b) Duplicate filing. — Notwithstanding subsection (a)(1) of this section, a statement filed by a member of the General Assembly shall be filed in duplicate with the Joint Ethics Committee. §15-607(i) – (i) Sources of earned income. — (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, the statement shall include a schedule listing the name and address of each: (i) place of salaried employment, including secondary employment, of the individual or a member of the individual’s immediate family at any time during the applicable period; and (ii) business entity of which the individual or a member of the individual’s immediate family was a sole or partial owner, and from which the individual or family member received earned income, at any time during the applicable period. (2) The statement may not include a listing of a minor child’s employment or business entities of which the child is sole or partial owner, unless the place of employment or the business entity: (i) is subject to the regulation or authority of the agency that employs the individual; or (ii) has contracts in excess of $10,000 with the agency that employs the individual.
Signed: Date: March 26, 2012