State House

The bills with bipartisan support address issues including veterans' scholarships, identity theft from children, promotion of social studies in the public schools, helping high-tech workers with the cost of security clearances and protecting family farms from estate taxes. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / The Baltimore Sun / December 22, 2011)

Penn National Gaming spent far more than any other company on lobbyists in Annapolis in the past six months, laying out $877,432 to make its case before lawmakers, according to a new report from the state ethics commission.

The company, which owns and operates the Hollywood Casino in Perryville, was pushing the legislature to authorize a sixth casino in Prince George’s County at Rosecroft Raceway, which it also owns. It is unclear whether the money was well spent; the gambling expansion bill that passed the Senate would have not have allowed a casino at Penn National’s establishment.

Other gambling interests also paid big dollars: CBAC gaming, the Caesars-led group applying for a casino license in Baltimore, spent $163,000. The company is trying — so far unsuccessfully — to persuade the legislature to allow table games in Maryland.

One surprise is the Cordish Cos., which only paid $86,542.50 for its robust effort to kill the casino expansion bill that it believes would take business away from its Arundel Mills casino.

Other big spenders include the state’s teachers union —which spent about $500,000 and wanted to be sure the General Assembly required counties to continue pumping money into education. A gay-rights group pushing the legislature to approve same-sex marriage and the Realtors groups who successfully fought back a measure to roll back a state tax incentive on new homes were also near the top.

Two convicted felons graced the list of top paid lobbyists in Annapolis. Gerard E. Evans, who went to prison for a “bell-ringing” scheme in which he extracted payments from a client using a phony threat of legislation, made $1,051,000 in the past six months and was No. 1.

Bruce Bereano, who was convicted of mail fraud, was No. 4, making $772,500.

The only woman on the top-10 list was Lisa Harris Jones, who reached No. 3 with $840,195. She was also one of three African-Americans in the top 10.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com