WASHINGTON – The Democratic challenger in Maryland’s 8th District congressional race Tuesday defended a $25,000 loan that he made to a Virginia congressman last year.
Terry Lierman, who owns a Capitol Hill lobbying firm, said the 1999 loan to Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., was a loan to a longtime friend who just happened to be a congressman and was not offered to seek favor. Lierman said in a prepared statement that he would make the loan again if the same situation arose.
“I stick by my friends and I stick by my principles,” Lierman said.
Lierman and Moran released statements yesterday in a response to an article in The Washington Post that said the loan came just days before Moran signed on to legislation that would help a pharmaceutical company — Schering- Plough — extend patent rights for a lucrative medication. At the time, Schering-Plough was a client of Lierman’s lobbying firm, Capitol Associates Inc.
Derek Walker, Lierman’s campaign manager, described the article as a “stab at everything that Terry believes in,” including how Lierman has chosen to live and raise his family.
“It’s the politics of personal destruction rearing its head again,” Walker said.
Rep. Connie Morella, R-Bethesda, who Lierman is trying to unseat, issued a restrained response to the flap.
“It seems to be a sorry circumstance. The facts speak for themselves,” Morella said through her campaign manager, P.J. Hogan. He said Tuesday evening that there would be no further comment from Morella on the loan.
In their statements, both Lierman and Moran questioned the timing of the article, noting that it was printed just one week before an election in which they both are running. Both said that the information about the loan had been available for almost a year and that neither of them had made any attempts to hide it.
“It is odd that this matter had only become an issue one week before an election in which Mr. Lierman and I are both involved,” Moran said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
Moran’s statement also said that his staff got a verbal OK from the House Ethics Committee prior to the loan, and that the committee later followed up with written approval. He also noted that 77 other members of Congress co- sponsored the pharmaceutical legislation in question, H.R. 1598.
Walker said that while Schering-Plough has been a client of Capitol Associates, pharmaceutical companies represent less than 10 percent of the firm’s revenues. Other clients for Capitol Associates include universities, hospitals and patient groups, Walker said.
In his statement, Moran said that he has been making regular payments to Lierman since he got the loan and has repaid $6,000 so far. At the time the loan was made, he said, he had agreed to repay it with interest.
Walker said Lierman would continue what “has been an extremely clean campaign,” and would not lash out in response over the loan issue.
Washington Post reporter Jo Becker did not return a call to respond to Lierman and Moran’s comments on her story.
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