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Comcast fires lobbyist to Md. General Assembly

July 20, 2003

ANNAPOLIS (AP) - Comcast Cablevision has fired Bruce Bereano as its lobbyist and canceled its plans to take Maryland legislators on a cruise of the San Francisco Bay this week.

Comcast spokesman David Nevins said the company delivered the news to Bereano Friday morning, just three days after The (Baltimore) Sun reported that the lobbyist had invited legislators on Comcast's behalf to go sailing during a national conference.

State taxpayers are picking up most of the expenses for about 60 Maryland legislators to attend the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several legislators criticized the invitation as an implied inducement to skip out on the work of the conference.

Nevins wouldn't comment on the reason Comcast fired its longtime Annapolis lobbyist.

"We informed him that we no longer have a need for his services, and we appreciate the work he's done and wish him well going forward," Nevins said.

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Bereano said he regrets the loss of a client he has represented for "about two decades."

"I always will be grateful, and I always will remain loyal to Comcast," he said.

Bereano declined to comment on specifics about Comcast, the cruise or the company's decision not to retain him.

"This could represent a sea change for lobbying in Annapolis," said James Browning, executive director of Common Cause/Maryland. "It's a ray of hope. It suggests that companies can police themselves with a little help from ... others looking over their shoulders."

Comcast originally reacted to the news of the Wednesday afternoon cruise plan by rescheduling the trip after the end of the conference's business sessions. But on Friday, the company decided to scuttle the trip entirely.

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