John R. Stierhoff, the former partner of recently convicted lobbyist Gerard E. Evans, has been named to a task force that will make recommendations to the General Assembly on ethical rules for the profession.
Stierhoff, who testified at the trial after being granted immunity during the federal investigation of Evans and Del. Tony E. Fulton, was appointed by House Speaker Casper R. Taylor to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of veteran lobbyist James Doyle.
Taylor said he made the appointment because he believes Stierhoff is "a very good lobbyist that fits the description of what we need" on the task force, which is considering changes in state law governing lobbyists. The panel is headed by former House Majority Leader Donald B. Robertson.
The appointment comes less than two weeks after Evans was convicted and Fulton was acquitted of federal mail fraud charges. Evans was found guilty of defrauding clients by raising unjustified fears that hostile legislation would be introduced. He faces sentencing Sept. 14.
Taylor said he heard nothing about Stierhoff's testimony in the trial that would disqualify him from a role on the task force. "I would hardly have appointed him if I did," Taylor said.
Stierhoff, who attended his first meeting yesterday but added little to the debate, said he accepted the appointment after Taylor asked him to serve. "As with all members of the commission, I bring a broad range of experience," he said.
Kathleen S. Skullney, executive director of Common Cause/Maryland, said "the grant of immunity certainly hangs in the air" but declined to criticize Stierhoff's appointment.
Robertson said he had "no reservations whatsoever" about the appointment, saying he worked with Stierhoff when in the House and holds the former legislative staff member in high regard.