There are new questions this week for Bob Ehrlich over his selection of a running mate, as the Washington Post detailed allegations of “widespread fraud” by Mary Kane and her husband’s company in its pursuit of contracts with federal agencies.
The complaint, filed under the False Claim Act, says the Kane Co. and its subsidiaries paid lower wages than mandated on moving and office installation projects for the federal government dating to 1998. Mary Kane is a co-owner of the company and was a member of the Kane Co.’s board of directors from 1997 to 2003, when much of the alleged conduct is said to have taken place.
Last week, Bob Ehrlich refused to answer questions about the matter, but new information provided by the Washington Post shows that the complaint against the Kane Company is serious business for Bob Ehrlich and his running mate.
“It certainly indicates that the government believes there is real credibility to the case,” said Altomease R. Kennedy, a Washington lawyer with no involvement in the matter. And if the allegations are proved, it could face millions in civil penalties.
So while his former Lt. Governor, Michael Steele, is making national headlines for his “wildly inaccurate” “uninformed, unnecessary, unwise, untimely,” comments about the war in Afghanistan, Bob Ehrlich has questions of his own to answer about his new running mate, Mary Kane.
Bipartisanship vital now more than ever
On Presidents Day, we learned that two-term senator from Indiana, Evan Bayh, was the next in a line of senior members of Congress who have announced that they are not seeking re-election. Bayh cited the lack of bi-partisanship on Capitol Hill as his reason for retirement, saying “there is too much partisanship and not enough progress — too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving.”
Since coming to Congress a little over a year ago I have been confronted with the same frustrations and have been searching to find consensus among my colleagues in a more and more contentious environment.
Bayh’s retirement strikes a particular chord among moderates like me. Bayh was known as a legislator who was willing to cross party lines and put principle before politics.
In trying times we need more men and women of similar character in Congress; but instead the system has forced a good deal of them to throw up their hands and give way to the more extremist factions of both parties.
In our history as a nation we have had the most success when we have legislated from the middle. The best ideas get their start with compromise and a willingness to negotiate across the aisle, not through the political bickering that only leads to entrenched ideologies where anyone’s success equals another’s political failure.
Republicans and Democrats have a set of principles that serve as the foundation for their party, but they also have a shared responsibility to move this country forward.
Many who have made bi-partisanship the hallmarks of their career, have ultimately lost faith in a system that seemingly rewards partisanship and favors those who fail to compromise. After more than a year in Congress I believe that we can change this failing system and bring back the type of government that the American people want and deserve.
One area where this change can begin is budget reform. Both parties agree that as a nation we can no longer afford to spend money that we do not have. For the sake of future generations we need to make the tough choices that American families are faced with every day. Neither party has a monopoly on good ideas, so instead of political posturing we need to come to the table and figure out a way to reform the budget process so that debt and deficits no longer threaten everything from our economy to our national security.
In my short tenure, I have tried to work with colleagues from both sides of the aisle and fought for initiatives that would encourage more openness, cooperation, and bipartisanship in Congress.
I remain dedicated to governing with the independent spirit that my constituents deserve and I will continue to seek compromise and consensus while urging my colleagues to do the same. If we can do this then we can make the changes to our system that will once again welcome legislators of good conscience who seek to put party politics aside and move our country in the right direction.
U.S. Rep. Frank M. Kratovil Jr., a Democrat, is the congressman from Maryland’s 1st District.
As Bob Ehrlich continues his extended flirtation with a possible run for Governor, it’s important that the public take a good hard look at what he’s been up to for the last four years. He’s worked as a self-described “rain-maker” for a big North Carolina law firm, and he’s worked as a paid pundit and talk show host in Baltimore. Unfortunately, it appears he may be illegally using his media appearances to help make money for his firm.
Yesterday, the Maryland Democratic Party submitted to the Federal Communications Commission a request for investigation of FOX 45 TV and Robert Ehrlich, Jr., for violations of the FCC’s “Payola Rules.”
In 2009, Ehrlich was paid to promote the position of one of his clients on a highly controversial issue in Maryland: the awarding of a license for a slots machine facility. Mr. Ehrlich promoted that position in the course of a broadcast program on which he regularly appears on WBFF-Fox 45 TV, in Baltimore, Maryland. However, there was no disclosure at all to viewers, either by Mr. Ehrlich or by the station, of the payment made to Mr. Ehrlich to promote his client’s position in the broadcast.
Federal Communications Commission payola rules require he disclose his firm’s interests to avoid the appearance of neutrality, which clearly did not exist. Mr. Ehrlich clearly did not disclose this conflict during the broadcast.
When initially questioned about the complaint, Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell said that our “allegations didn’t deserve the dignity of a response,” but later admitted he didn’t know whether they had disclosed that Ehrlich had a financial stake before pushing his client’s position.
Meanwhile, FOX 45 TV is “looking into it” and has indicated that its findings would be aired on the station.
Ehrlich needs to answer whether he put his firm’s financial gain ahead of the public trust. If he didn’t violate FCC rules, he needs to tell us that. If he did violate FCC rules, he needs to own up to it. What is he hiding? What does he know that he is refusing to share with the people of Maryland? Are there other instances where he promoted clients over the airwaves without properly disclosing the relationship?
It’s inappropriate for Bob Ehrlich to use his regular appearances on television and radio to promote his firm’s clients. It violates the public trust; and as a former public official, he should know better.
As he seeks to re-enter public life and seek public office, Bob Ehrlich needs to come clean about his questionable and possibly illegal activity.