Melanie George Smith Even Phonier Than I Thought

Filed in Delaware, Featured by on January 2, 2019 15 Comments

I knew her ‘sustainability’ bill stunk to high heaven. I couldn’t figure out what the purpose was for this bill. Now I know.  It was a bill designed to create a cottage industry where Melanie George Smith could prosper.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is truly a blatant self-dealing conflict-of-interest. First read this article by Scott Goss in the News-Journal. Read the entire article. It paints a damning portrait of Smith’s motives and the lengths to which she went to make them reality. Some choice excerpts:

Former state lawmaker Melanie George Smith has launched a consulting firm that critics say is benefiting from a Delaware “sustainability” industry that she helped create during her final months in office.

Her business, Sustainable World Strategies, is prompting questions about the rules that are supposed to stop state lawmakers from crafting legislation that benefits them personally…

…Smith rejects the notion that her business has anything to do with the legislation she sponsored.

“They are completely separate,” she said. “And when you introduce legislation in Dover that is broadly beneficial to everybody, there is no conflict whatsoever.”

I boldfaced that last sentence for a reason. The bill is not broadly beneficial to everybody. In fact, it appears to only benefit Melanie George Smith. It certainly does nothing for sustainability. Basically, for $250 a year, a company can list some sustainability goals on a piece of paper, or e-paper, and get a Certificate from the State citing them as some sort of Sustainability Corporation. They don’t have to do anything to make their company more sustainable. The state isn’t even gonna check on them. Smith sponsored the bill and, before her term had officially even expired, created an LLC to lead companies through the process. Presumably b/c nobody but her understands the process. I sure know that I didn’t. Here’s what I wrote back when the bill was being considered:

Rep. Smith’s HB 310 looks like the Bullshit Bill Of The Year. Which is presumably why it has so many co-sponsors. It, and I quote b/c I can’t make this up, ‘establishes a voluntary disclosure regime to foster dialogue around sustainability and responsibility among participating Delaware business entities and their various stakeholders. Because issues relating to sustainability and responsibility are fact-specific and fact-intensive and may vary greatly depending on, among other things, the size of the entity, the nature of its business and operations, and the industry in which it operates, the Act does not prescribe specific standards, measures of performance or criteria for evaluating performance’.  In other words, it depends on what ‘is’ is. Just read that entire synopsis and please tell me WTF this bill is supposed to accomplish. It looks like it enables ‘business entities’ to claim sustainability achievements w/o having achieved anything.  Instead of passing this bill, couldn’t we just give ’em special license plates or something?

The good news? There’s an easy way to rectify this blatant double-dealing, and it should be done in January.  The General Assembly can and should enact legislation excising this blatant abuse of office from the Delaware Code.  BTW, kudos to Reps. Kowalko and Williams and 8 R senators for voting against this bill at the time.

As to what the future holds in store for Melanie? Can that position at Del-Tech be far behind?


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  1. jason330 says:

    Yeah. This is contemptible. I addition to mere scorn, can she get arrested or something?

  2. She doesn’t even appear to be technically in violation of House Ethics rules.

    Which tells you all you need to know about ‘House Ethics rules’. An oxymoron if ever there was one.

    However, a complaint to the Delaware Bar Association might not be out of order.

    • Rufus Y. Kneedog says:

      This has been and always will be the problem with ethics rules; people who understand what ethical behavior is don’t need it codified but the people who need to be policed in this area will usually find a “But it doesn’t say I can’t” loophole.

    • Thanks, Harold. Matt’s right. Not only can the General Assembly rescind this law, not only should the General Assembly rescind this law, but I think the General Assembly will rescind this law.

      Based on Speaker Pete’s comment in the article, I wouldn’t be shocked if this bill was jointly sponsored by everybody in leadership. It serves two functions: it rescinds a law that was designed to benefit only one member of the General Assembly, and it creates the illusion that the General Assembly is serious about ethics violations. Call it a win-win.

      BTW, if the House is serious about ethics violations, it will consider Mike Ramone’s use of his office to get his opponent fired from her job. Don’t hold your breath on that one. BTW, you DO remember that Melanie endorsed him this fall, don’t you? Could he be her first client?

  3. BTW, another reason why the D’s need to pass this ASAP? Rethugs, including many who voted for this atrocity, will publicly suffer attacks of the vapors if D’s are tone-deaf and don’t repeal it.

    Monsignor Lavelle would have already expressed his ‘outrage’. If he was still there.

  4. mediawatch says:

    As much as I understand how business owners love the idea of hanging laminated plaques bearing meaningless certifications on their office walls, I’m struggling to understand Ms. George Smith’s business model. Why would a business want to pay her lawyers’ rates to secure a certification that appears to be almost as simple to acquire as a state business license?
    (OK, maybe most business owners are really, really gullible.)
    The fact that she has acquired only one client in her first three months of operation seems quite telling. Unless she picks up the pace her sustainability business will prove to be quite unsustainable. I think I’d rather see her fail on her own than have her former colleagues in the Legislature rescue her from such foolishness.

    • John Kowalko says:

      ” Why would a business want to pay her lawyers’ rates to secure a certification that appears to be almost as simple to acquire as a state business license?”
      The same reason hundreds of thousands of entities have DE. agents/corporate bar attorneys file for their LLC licensing each year for exorbitant fees rather than pay the $350 filing fee and slap it together with an online app. Anyone can do that now but what kind of cover can you expect for the activities and/or histories of your partners and yourself? Hey if “Fingers (in the till), Layton etc”. happened to be your hired agent for your LLC license application then you can file “attorney client privilege” in the response box for inquiries. Just draw the curtains and turn out the lights, nothing to see here if you COULD see here.
      Representative John Kowalko

  5. She was supposedly on her way full-time to Richards, Layton & Finger.

    Hard to believe that someone with her connections is too toxic for the most Delaware Way of law firms.

  6. Disappointed Delawarean says:

    I would love to see someone sponsor a bill to repeal this, but it’s hard to see the dominant ruling party turn on one of their own. Honestly, there doesn’t seem to be any political benefit to them by doing so, even though they should.

  7. Alby says:

    As Bobby Russell almost said, if that ain’t lovin’ you, God didn’t make little green apples that fall so close to the tree.

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