Bromwell case shows need for public funding of political campaigns

ANNAPOLIS, MD. — Newly released transcripts of taped conversations between former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell Sr. and an undercover FBI informant are more evidence that the corrupting influence of money in politics is far from a dead issue in Maryland politics. Common Cause believes the Bromwell case shows that strong reforms are needed, and passage of the Public Campaign Financing Act would be a major step toward breaking the link between special interest money and legislative favors.

In the tapes, the indicted Bromwell bragged about his influence over the Legislature and told the informant he was for sale. “I’m your (expletive) whore in Maryland, on the Senate side,” Bromwell said, according to printed transcripts.

“We need legislators who will work to represent the public, not prostitute themselves to special interests,” said Mary Boyle, communications director of Common Cause. “Public funding for campaigns will ensure that the voices of voters, not wealthy patrons of elected officials, are heard in Annapolis.”

Boyle said that while most legislators are honest, the abuses apparent in the Bromwell case are an outgrowth of a campaign finance system that “rewards those who can shake down the most big money donors over those who have the best ideas. The interests of those who funnel cash to legislators often win out over the needs of ordinary voters.”