Powerful Influences in New York and Maryland

Associated Press, “Bruno trial sheds light on labor influence in NY“:

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The corruption trial of former New York Senate leader Joseph Bruno revealed how box seats at a swanky race track, golf outings and other perks were the currency as labor unions and politicians kept public works dollars flowing, required union wages on taxpayer-funded projects, and sweetened pension benefits for unionized government workers….[snip]

Attorney James Featherstonhaugh, a longtime lobbyist ….described a political landscape where unions generally do a better job than business interests.

“The Medical Society for example is pervasive. The trial lawyers, I’m happy to say, are pervasive,” Featherstonhaugh testified. “But the unions are equal to or exceed them all.”

From The Maryland Gazette newspapers, Gazette.com, a reporter’s notebook column from November:

With all this talk about health care reform, don’t expect tort reform to move front and center, at least according to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Mac Middleton.

Middleton, who was on a health care panel at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce Business Policy Conference in Cambridge last Friday, said political realities might prevent it.

Middleton, a Democrat, said that having a Democratic president and Congress means no one is talking about limiting damages in medical malpractice cases.

“One of the things [is], Republican or Democrat, you take care of your base,” Middleton said. “You recognize the people that get you there. It’s labor and trial lawyers that get Democrats in office. And you don’t bite off the hand that feeds you. That’s the stark reality of it.”

It’s not quite Howard Dean’s much-cited quote about Congressmen’s fear of taking on trial lawyers, but still…

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