At Preakness 2019, Maryland state government uses corporate tent to woo, reward

The Maryland state government sponsored a corporate tent at the 144th Preakness Stakes to network with politicians and woo businesses.

The tent was amid a line of corporate tents ringing the track at one end of the infield. Reporters weren’t allowed inside, but politicians and others streamed in and out all day. Music wafted outside, including Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey.”

Before the race, state officials couldn’t provide a cost estimate of how much taxpayers spent on the tent. A Department of Commerce spokeswoman estimated her agency’s contribution toward the tent was about $50,000.

According to a list provided by the Hogan administration, the Department of Commerce invited executives from several businesses that either have a presence in Maryland or have signed deals to open facilities here, including:

» Kite Pharma (opening a facility in Frederick County)

» Dietz and Watson (Philadelphia-based meat company sells hot dogs and sausages at Ravens games)

» Shimadzu Instruments (North American headquarters in Columbia)

» Thales (defense and security contractor with an office in Clarksburg)

» Great Wolf Resorts (planning a family resort in Cecil County)

» Food Network (some of the channel’s personalities have interests in restaurants here)

» AstraZeneca (pharmaceutical company employs 3,000 workers in Gaithersburg)

» Floor and Decor (planning a 1.5 million-square-foot warehouse at Tradepoint Atlantic in Sparrows Point)

» Morgan Stanley (investment company has offices in Harbor East, Hunt Valley and Columbia)

Gov. Larry Hogan sent invitations to a crowd of mostly politicians and cabinet secretaries, including:

» House Speaker Adrienne Jones of Baltimore County

» Former Gov. Parris Glendening

» Housing Secretary Ken Holt

» Aging and Disabilities Secretary Carol Beatty

» Budget Secretary David Brinkley

» Appointments Secretary Chris Cavey

» Higher Education Secretary James Fielder

» Glenn Fueston, director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention

» Corrections and Public Safety Secretary Rob Green

» Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles

» Michael Higgs, director of the state Department of Assessments and Taxation

» Patrick Lally, senior executive director of the Governor’s Coordinating Offices

» Information Technology Secretary Michael Leahy

» Steve McAdams, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives

» Planning Secretary Robert McCord

» Col. William Pallozzi, superintendent of the Maryland State Police

» Wendi Peters, special secretary for smart growth

» Jimmy Rhee, special secretary for small, minority and women business affairs

» Dennis Schrader, chief operating officer of the Maryland Department of Health

» Major General Linda Singh of the Maryland National Guard

» Acting Labor Secretary Jim Rzepkowski

» Mary Beth Tung, director of the Maryland Energy Administration

» Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz

» Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley

» Harford County Executive Barry Glassman

» Len Foxwell of the Maryland Office of the Comptroller

» Del. Nic Kipke of Anne Arundel County, minority leader in the House of Delegates

» Sen. Bobby Zirkin of Baltimore County

» Sen. Steve Hershey of the Eastern Shore, minority whip in the state Senate

» Del. Wendell Beitzel of Western Maryland

» Del. Kris Valderrama of Prince George’s County

» University of Maryland, College Park President Wallace Loh

Nearby, the Republican Governors Association had a large tent, where the group hosted a fundraiser starring Hogan. Sponsorships for the tent started at $10,000 and went up to $100,000.

Reporters weren’t allowed in that tent, either, but Hogan could be seen posing for photos with guests.

“They’re just an incredible organization that had a lot to do with getting me elected and helping 30 governors across the country win,” Hogan said in an interview. “They have a great group of people here.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this report.

pwood@baltsun.com

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