The Washington Post ran an interesting article about a Baltimore based attorney who filed a brief in federal court saying a politician’s request for donations in exchange for a political favor or vote was not unlawful and happens daily. Attorney Daniel Karp a name partner at Karpinski Colaresi & Karp in Baltimore filed the motion in the civil matter American Hospitality Management, LLC v. Prince George’s County Maryland, et al. Karp and an associate represent Prince George’s County and several members of the County Council including Tony Knotts who the lawsuit accuses of trying to shakedown American Hospitality Management for political donations in exchange for a vote on approval of a county lease.
In his motion to dismiss the lawsuit Karp writes:
“A politician's request for campaign fund raising assistance or donations in exchange for a political favor or vote is similarly not unlawful or independently wrongful. Unfortunately, it is something that occurs daily in the political arena, and in no manner constitutes a tort…”
He goes on to further tell the judge:
“The Complaint acknowledges that Mr. Luthra not only made a $4,000.00 contribution to PGCPIC, but that he voluntarily paid Mr. Arrington $5,000.00 per month to be his lobbyist to the Council in order to gain approval of the proposed lease bill. Clearly, Mr. Luthra's real complaint is not that he had to play politics, but that he played and lost because the bill ultimately was not approved by the Council.”
For an attorney who represents local governments across Maryland to say requests for fund raising assistance in exchanges for political favors or votes is not unlawful is mind boggling. You would think even an attorney would believe it is “wrongful.” It is a violation of Maryland and federal law to take money in the form of a political donation in exchange for political action. In interviews with the Washington Post Karp seemed to say his comments were strictly in relation to tort law. While that may be true, taking money in the form of a political donation in exchange for a favor or vote is unlawful, illegal, immoral, unethical, corrupt and criminal. It is also a breach of fiduciary duty which may very well give rise to a tort claim.
Maryland Criminal law Section § 9-201:
(c) A public employee may not demand or receive a bribe, fee, reward, or testimonial to:
(1) influence the performance of the official duties of the public employee; or
(2) neglect or fail to perform the official duties of the public employee.
Daniel Karp is an accomplished attorney with a long list of municipal clients. As a member of the bar he has an ethical duty to provide the court with truthful information.
Maryland Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct
"Rule 4.1 Truthfulness in Statements to Others
(a) In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:
(1) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person"
There is no speculation on Karp’s part in his writing. He clearly writes that taking money in the form of donations in exchange for votes “is something that occurs daily in the political arena.” What arena? How does he know this? Does he have personal knowledge of politicians trading votes for campaign contributions across Maryland or has he filled his brief with speculation and half-truths in an attempt to trick a federal judge into dismissing the lawsuit against the county.
Given the severity of these claims coming from an attorney that represents politicians it would be a good idea to have federal authorities investigate political corruption in Prince George’s County and throughout Maryland.