Franchot backs O'Malley on UM Law Clinic

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Comptroller Peter Franchot backed Governor Martin O'Malley's criticism of the University of Maryland's Environmental Law Clinic during Wednesday's Delmarva Poultry Summit at Salisbury University.

"For the record, let me state clearly that this is one area where I totally agree with Governor O'Malley. The University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic should not be giving assistance to a well funded national group that is harassing and litigating Maryland taxpayers," Comptroller Franchot told the conference, according to his prepared remarks.

"That is a prime example of why we need to educate Marylanders about the truths of this industry and focus on how the chicken industry can help move our state forward out the recession," the Comptroller said.

Governor O’Malley offered his support for an Eastern Shore farm family last month in its struggle against the New York-based Waterkeeper organization. The organization, founded for Robert Kennedy Jr., is suing the family for an alleged violation of environmental laws that was already investigated and resolved by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Governor O’Malley’s letter questioned why the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic, which is supposed to help “those who lack access to quality legal representation,” has decided to help a non-profit organization that raised more than $3.5 million last year, in opposition to a farm family on the verge of bankruptcy.

The Waterkeeper organization's fundraisers, which have attracted such celebrities as Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, William Shatner, Marla Maples, Tiffany Trump, and Mark Messier, are held in locations like Banff and Deer Valley. Earlier this month, the non-profit organization raised money at the 20th Anniversary Deer Park Celebrity Skifest, which was also broadcast as a CBS Sports special.

Click here to read Comptroller Franchot's prepared opening remarks.

Click here to read the article on the summit from the Salisbury Daily Times, and here to read the article on the summit from the Easton Star-Democrat.

Click here to see the Maryland Gothic cartoon on the issue submitted by a Center Maryland reader.
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