Photo Enforcement Companies spent over $416,000 attempting to influence state legislators from May 2014 through April 2015, according to state ethics disclosures.
Speed Camera Company Xerox spent approximately $245,000 during this period to three lobbying companies. Lobbyists from the firm Harris Jones & Malone was paid $55,000. $90,000 was paid to Gerard Evan LTD. Another $100,720 was paid to law firm Alexander and Cleaver to conduct lobbying.
(By odd coincidence, Alexander & Cleaver was also the law firm which represented the Town of Morningside in a dispute over access to public records filed by the editor of this website. The attorney from Alexander & Cleaver argued that the town did not need to produce speed camera calibration records under Maryland's government transparency law because the program was run by speed camera contractor Brekford Corp. Morningside lost that case.)
Prior to 2013, Xerox had been spending about $176,000 per year on lobbyists.
Xerox holds speed camera contracts with Montgomery County, Baltimore County, and the State of Maryland, as well as several municipalities. The firm had been placed in an uncomfortable spotlight because they previously were forced to admit that speed cameras they ran under contract with the City of Baltimore were systematically issuing erroneous citations due to what the company referred to as "radar effects".
Speed Camera Contractor Optotraffic spent $47,788.84 on lobbying from 5/1/2014 through 4/30/2015 to the firm Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan, & Silver. This was almost the same as the $48,091 they spent in the previous year during this same period.
(Again by coincidence, Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan, & Silver is the law firm which Optotraffic retained in a dispute between the Maryland Drivers Alliance and the Town of Brentwood, where Brentwood had delayed access to records about speed camera errors for four years. Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan, & Silver argued that Optotraffic should not have to produce records in response to a subpoena. Eventually, after many additional months, documents were produced which showed that some erroneous speed camera tickets had been issued.... but only more than a year after the public records case had been brought to court and after the legislative hearing for which records had been sought to be presented at had passed).
Speed camera manufacturer Gatso paid $60,500 to the firm Greenwill Consulting Group during this period. Gatso is a dutch owned company which produces the GS-11 radar speed camera which is used in several jurisdictions. Gatso has attempted to get into the business of contracting directly for speed camera services, rather than merely providing hardware to other contractors. It was announced last month that Gatso would be acquired by the Swedish firm Sensys AB, another speed camera manufacturer.
American Traffic Solutions paid lobbyists from Greenfield & Kress, P.A. a total of $62,000. ATS is one of the largest photo enforcement companies in the US, and has tried to get into the speed camera business in Maryland but has so far been unsuccessful in capturing a major contract in this state. It is possible ATS may be particularly concerned not only about speed cameras, but also about red light camera legislation. In the last legislative session legislation was proposes which would have prevented red light cameras from being used issue tickets for slow moving right turns, a type of violation which now constitutes the majority of red light camera tickets issued in some jurisdictions. That bill died in committee.
Lobbyists provide a way for firms to purchase influence in several ways. First, lobbyists often make large donations to state lawmakers, which then appear under the name of the lobbyist rather than under the firm's name in campaign donation reports. In addition, some lobbyists have established political connections. For example one of the lobbyists retained by Xerox was Robert Garagiola, a former state lawmaker and former candidate for US congress who now works for Alexander & Cleaver. Harris Jones & Malone is also extremely well connected, as demonstrated by the fact that the mayor of Baltimore City actually presided over the wedding of two senior partners in the firm. In 2013 Harris Jones & Malone made itself $285,000 for itself lobbying on various issues in Baltimore City alone.
Photo enforcement companies have been worried about legislation considered in the wake of the collapse of Baltimore City's disastrous speed camera program, and ensuring that no additional restrictions would be imposed beyond paper tiger rules passed last year. That legislation was written by a secret legislative workgroup which included senior officials from agencies which run speed cameras, but opponents of speed cameras were not invited to participate. One speed camera company declared victory in its press releases after that legislation passed, claiming that the changes in the "reform" bill would have no effect its existing contracts.
In addition, the election of a Republican Governor who had pledged to be more favorable towards motorists has likely raised concerns. During former governor O'Malley's term between November 2006 and October 2014, Xerox and ACS (the company Xerox acquired their speed camera business from) reported a total of $16,500 in campaign donations in Maryland exclusively to democratic candidates and organization. This included 2014 donations of $4000 to Anthony Brown and $4000 to Ken Ulman, who were running for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. However immediately after Governor Hogan's upset victory over Anthony Brown, Xerox made a $2000 donation to the Maryland Republican Party Central Committee in November 2014, and a $2000 campaign donation in January 2015 to Larry Hogan's Campaign Fund.
- ► 2016 (21)
- ▼ July 2015 (4)
- ► 2014 (82)
- ► 2013 (102)
- ► 2012 (66)
- ► 2011 (88)
- ► 2010 (69)
- ► 2009 (58)
Our Top Stories
- Rockville Falsely Accuses School Bus of Speeding
- Montgomery County Has Secret Speed Camera Committee -- Press and Critics Not Welcome
- Montgomery Speed Camera "OmBudsman" Won't Answer Questions
- Montgomery County Issues Erroneous Tickets
- College Park Cited Stationary Bus for Speeding
- Montgomery County ATEU Defends Culture of Secrecy
- How Two-Faced Triple-A Gave Maryland Speed Cameras
- "Secret" Baltimore Speed Camera Audit Found 10% Error Rate
- Speed Camera Reform Act Just a Big Fat Lie
- Court Rules Against Morningside on Public Records Access
- Speed Camera Company Celebrates "Bounty System" Loophole
- Montgomery County Steals Lanes for Expensive Bus Program
- Wicomico County Teachers Say Camera is Not Accurate
- Montgomery Council President Rice Racked Up Tickets
- Circuit Court Rules Innocence is a Defense, Rejects "Snitch" Requirement
- Baltimore Ends Camera Contract, Moves to Hides Records
- Montgomery Scamera Boss Lies About Red Light Camera "Warning Flashes"
- Montgomery County Camera Boss Blocks Public From Secret Meeting
- Salisbury Records Show Calibration Lapses, Sorry No Refunds!!
- Speed Camera Accuracy Questioned in Morningside
- Attorny General Gansler Depicted as "Reckless Passenger"
- Morningside Deployed Cameras Despite County Denial
- Morningside Admits Maintaining No Calibration Records, Doesn't Operate Own Cameras
- ACLU Documents Mass Tracking of Motorists By License Plate Scannrs
- Brekford Demands Tribute to See Calibration Records
- Access To Brekford Calibration Records Stalled in Salisbury, Morningside
- Public and Private Lobbyists Worked to Kill Speed Camera Reform
- Montgomery County Speed Camera Transforms Toyota into Dodge
- Montgomery County Boasts Error Rate "Under Ten Percent"
- Speed Camera Company Collects Dirt on Competitors
- Woman Gets 3 Tickets from DC Without Going There
- Legislature Raises Gas Tax
- Laurel, Hagerstown Circumvent Calibration Requirement
- Speed Camera Calibration Fails To Ensure Accuracy
- Speed Camera Programs Flout Sunshine Law
- Xerox Admits 5% Error Rate For Speed Camera Tickets
- Baltimore Cites Motionless Car For Speeding
- O'Malley Says Speed Camera Bounties Are Illegal
- Baltimore Ticketed Innocent Delivery Vehicle: Documents Prove Speed Camera Error
- Rockville Sees Huge Surge in Red Light Violations
- Trucking Company Challenges Accuracy of Baltimore Citations: Videos Prove Speed Camera Errors
- Speed Camera Salesman Caught Speeding AGAIN
- Riverdale Park Defends Forgery of Police Signatures
- High Court Rules Local Governments Above the Law
- Riverdale Park Allowed Civilians to Forge Police Approvals
- Baltimore Speed Camera Issues Ticket to the Dead
- Statewide Speed Cameras Now a $77Million Per Year Industry
- PG County Court Presumes All Defendants Guilty
- Town Releases Documents Proving Errors With Optotraffic Cameras
- Man arrested for asserting innocence in speed camera hearing
- Optotraffic Representative Caught Speeding
- Driver Uses Carchip to Challenge Optotraffic Camera
- Deceased Baltimore Cop Signs 2000 Citations
- Montgomery County Denies Right To Face Camera Operator In Court
- ACS Buys Steak Dinners For Lawmakers
- Baltimore City Issues Hundreds of Tickets in Error
- Baltimore Writes Speed Camera Revenues Into Budget Before Cameras Approved
- Camera Mistakenly Accuses Driver of 100mph Rampage
- Montgomery County Scamera Contract Includes Massive PR Campaign
- Optotraffic Investigates Possible Speed Camera Errors
- Speed Camera Legislation Attracts Lobbyists
- Sykesville Voters Overturn Speed Cameras in Referendum
- Traffic Engineering Techniques Out-perform Speed Cameras
- Transportation Planning Board Unveils Plan to Track and Tax Drivers