Some Republicans say party 'disgraced' by Neall's lobbying Senator has decided to represent developers

THE BALTIMORE SUN

State Sen. Robert R. Neall's decision to lobby the Anne Arundel County government while managing the county's budget requests in the General Assembly brought outrage yesterday from populist Republicans who called on Neall to choose between public office and paid advocacy.

"I demand that the Maryland Republican Party ask Bob Neall to step down from his state Senate position or discontinue his lobbying practice," Guy Sabatino, president of the Republican Club of Maryland, wrote to state party Chairwoman Joyce Lyons Terhes. "We cannot have the Republican party disgraced in this manner."

But Terhes and other Republican leaders came out in support of Neall.

Neall met yesterday morning with Sen. Michael J. Collins, a Baltimore County Democrat who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, to discuss his dual role as local lobbyist and state legislator.

The meeting, arranged by Neall, came after The Sun reported that he had registered as a lobbyist in Anne Arundel while serving as the county's only member of the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee. Longtime legislators and ethics experts think Neall is the first politician in Maryland to hold both jobs simultaneously since the 1970s, when most jurisdictions made registration of lobbyists mandatory.

Peter Levine, a research scholar at the University of Maryland's Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, said a senator doubling as a local lobbyist takes money in politics "one step farther in the wrong direction."

"As a moral issue, it's the equivalent of a bribe," Levine said. "There is a clear quid pro quo: As a lobbyist, you are being paid to deliver."

Neall, who was appointed to the Senate seat last month, registered Dec. 31 to represent Driggs Corp. of Capitol Heights and Bethesda-based Donatelli & Klein, both developers with projects before Anne Arundel planners.

Both companies were Neall clients before he became a senator.

"With a part-time legislature, you are going to have conflict," Neall said. "The point is to have them disclosed when they arrive."

Republican leaders closed ranks yesterday behind the senator, who in 1994 was considered the party's favorite for governor before he left political office to start his lobbying practice.

"I have no intention of doing anything about this," Terhes said. "I think he's done the admirable thing. Someone unethical could have continued lobbying and not registered."

Pub Date: 1/17/97

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