ANNAPOLIS – Some of the same senators who gutted a bill that would have banned them from accepting sports tickets from lobbyists have been among the largest benefactors of such gifts, records show.
On Saturday, Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, D-Baltimore, successfully pushed through an amendment permitting legislators to keep on taking free tickets as long as they didn’t talk about legislation with lobbyists at the games. The House bill called for an outright ban.
Financial disclosure records filed at the State Ethics Commission show Hoffman was one of the biggest recipients of free sports tickets from lobbyists in 1993, the most recent year records are available.
The chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee accepted 10 season passes to Pimlico Racetrack for a total value of $12,500 from the Maryland Jockey Club, the most reported by any legislator, according to the records. She also received four Orioles tickets.
Hoffman’s amendment passed 25-21 despite unanimous House passage of an outright ban and an atmosphere of pressure for lobbying reform this session.
In floor debate Saturday, Hoffman said a ban would hurt personal relationships legislators may have with lobbyists.
“I have given up a lot to be in the Legislature and I’m not going to give up my personal life to the Legislature,” Hoffman said.
In an interview Monday, Hoffman noted that Pimlico Racetrack is in her district.
“I keep two of those passes in my desk drawer and the rest I give primarily to old people that live in the high rise housing by the track,” Hoffman said. “They enjoy it.”
Another vocal critic of the House ban, Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, D-Baltimore, accepted 24 Orioles tickets in 1993, his records show.
“This bill says to me that we have done something wrong. This is a perception bill,” Bromwell said Saturday on the Senate floor. “Search your soul. If you think you could be bought off for a ticket, then vote for this bill. But I’m not going to incriminate myself.”
Sen. William H. Amoss, D-Harford, another ticket ban opponent, accepted 12 Orioles tickets in 1993, according to disclosure records.
The records show that 16 senators accepted tickets from lobbyists in 1993. Of those, eight voted for Hoffman’s amendment.