Message from Bruce Bereano to rival Annapolis lobbyists: Forget about scooping up his clients. He's not dying. He's just on a diet.
The prominent Annapolis arm-twister has dropped 61 pounds in seven months. He feels better than ever, but fellow lobbyists have mistaken svelte for sick.
"Any smell of a health problem, they immediately go to the client list and get ready," Bereano said. "I’m sure I disappointed a lot of them. I’m alive and well and kicking. It’s a cold, heartless world, lobbying."
Bereano has been on the Medifast diet for the past 28 weeks, swapping meal bars and shakes for the pigs-in-a-blanket and other cocktail-party fare that many a lobbyist survives on. He declined to disclose his weight, but said he'd like to lose about 10 more pounds before going on Medifast's "maintenance" regimen.
"I was like a blimp, trust me," he said. "I went from a 52 waist to a 44."
Bereano has been so pleased with the results that he's tried to contact Medifast President and CEO Michael McDevitt. To no avail.
"I kept calling," Bereano said. "They have a phone system, you just cannot get a human being on the phone. So out of frustration, I had my staff get the address and I wrote him a formal letter on my stationery. 'I’m a customer and ... I just would like to talk to you in person to congratulate you and share my experience with you.'"
Months went by with no reply, so he sent another letter, attaching the first in case McDevitt hadn't seen it. Still no response.
Bereano holds no grudge. And no, he wasn't trying to turn Medifast into a lobbying client. The diet has done enough for Bereano's business, which during the session includes lots of "walking appointments" with on-the-go delegates and senators.
"Toward the end of session, they're so incredibly busy, it's very hard to make an appointment," he said. "They know when the bell rings they’ve got to walk over from their office or from committee over to the session. ... You wait outside the committee room when they're done. It’s on their schedule. They know they’re walking over with lobbyist so-and-so. ... The point is, I’ve got to be able to walk, and walk at their pace. I can’t say, 'Excuse me, senator. Can you slow down? I’m too fat to walk.'
"Two sessions ago, I couldn’t do it. This past session, man, I was hopping along."
Incidentally, I asked Bereano to email me a photo of his leaner self, but he said New York Rep. Anthony Weiner's troubles had scared him off that sort of thing.