Top lobbyist settles lengthy ethics case against him
An Annapolis Dispatch from the Baltimore Sun's Gadi Dechter
Annapolis lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano has settled a years-long fight over an alleged ethics violation by accepting an admonishment from the state ethics commission — but no formal finding of wrongdoing and no restrictions on his lucrative practice.
Under the settlement terms made public on Wednesday, Bereano agrees to reimburse the commission about $29,000 in expenses and is admonished to be more careful in how he crafts fee agreements with clients.
In 2002, the ethics panel ruled that Bereano had violated Maryland law by having a contingency agreement with one of his clients. The commission imposed a $5,000 fine and a 10-month suspension of Bereano’s license.
The lobbyist fought for years to clear his name, previously sullied by a 1994 mail fraud conviction. In March 2008, the state’s highest court reversed lower court rulings that upheld the sanctions against Bereano.
He declined to make any public comment on Wednesday.
The ethics investigation into Bereano’s lobbying practices followed articles in The Baltimore Sun that raised questions about a 2001 fee agreement with Pennsylvania-based Mercer Ventures Inc., which was then vying for government contracts for foster care services.
Throughout his appeals, Bereano has consistently remained one of top earners among Annapolis lobbyists. From November 2007 to October 2008, he received more than $800,000 in compensation, according to the most recently available public records.
-- Gadi Dechter