Bereano bloodying the lobbyist competition
You don't become a million-dollar Annapolis lobbyist by being a wallflower. The most effective hired guns in the state capitol are also the most aggressive. They approach their jobs in part like a sport, a series of battles to be won.
Bruce Bereano, one of the most colorful and best-known lobbyists, displayed that warrior-like attitude yesterday as he geared up to fight off an effort to restrict his liquor industry clients from selling sweet flavored malt beverages favored by underage drinkers.
The fight over alcopops has been going on for a couple of years in Maryland. Some lawmakers want the beverages taxed and treated like liquor, not beer, which would make them more expensive and less widely available.
Gov. Martin O'Malley has balked at those efforts, but the Sun's Gadi Dechter is reporting that O'Malley supports a new compromise plan that leaves the tax rate unchanged but makes alcopops available only at outlets that also sell hard liquor.
The powerful liquor industry is opposed to those changes. Bereano, who represents the industry, thinks his group made effective arguments during testimony yesterday.
As Dechter reports, Bereano gloated before heading to the witness table: "This bill is bloodied." When he got there, he declared it "beaten up pretty badly."
That's Bereano for you.
Lots of emotion. Lots of energy. He's worked his way back into the upper tier of state lobbyists after a 1994 conviction for mail fraud related to skimming money from clients and funneling it to political contributions. He earned $806,000 in lobbying fees last year, down from his high of more than $1 million, but still good enough for eighth place overall.
No doubt Bereano is irked that he's not in the top earning spot. That distinction went to Gary Alexander, who took in $1.2 million. But Bereano's still trying. And there's a lot of other lobbyists that he is leaving bloodied and beaten up pretty badly.