Former Del. Tawanna P. Gaines (D), whose legislative career was cut short after she pleaded guilty to corruption charges for using $22,000 from her campaign account for personal purposes, is returning to Annapolis to work with a lobbying shop.
The white hat lobbying firm Public Policy Partners will announce Thursday that it is entering into a strategic partnership with Gaines. The firm said Gaines will be providing advice on various issues with Public Policy Partners’ clients.
“Tawanna has been a public servant most of her life and she’s not done,” said Ann Ciekot, a partner at the firm. “We look forward to continuing our work in support of our clients in partnership with Tawanna.”
Gaines served in the Maryland House of Delegates for 18 years representing District 22 in Prince George’s County. Most of her service was on the House Appropriations Committee, including four years as the committee vice chair. She was scheduled to head the panel’s Capital Budget subcommittee before stepping down from the legislature. Before arriving in the General Assembly, she served as mayor of Berwyn Heights and as a city council member.
During Gaines’ time in Annapolis, she was considered a staunch defender of municipal governments and social service agencies. That fits well with Public Policy Partners’ portfolio. The firm’s clients include local governments, nonprofits, environmental groups and other advocacy organizations.
“Tawanna has been a staunch champion for children and families her entire public career,” said Liz Park, president of the Maryland Association of Youth Service Bureaus, one of Public Policy Partners’ clients. “Her work while in the General Assembly helped thousands of families across the state access mental health and others services to avoid family disruptions. We’re so glad to have her back working with us to continue these efforts, especially at this time of great need.”
In a statement, the firm acknowledged that “Gaines’ path to her new role with Public Policy Partners has not been straight forward, but her challenges have made her more determined than ever to support those who need it the most.”
Gaines, who is 69, resigned abruptly from the House in October 2019, and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud several days later. She was eventually given a six-month sentence and ordered to pay $22,000 in restitution.
“I understand the value of second chances,” she said in a statement. “I served honorably in public service for many years, and I take full responsibility for the actions that led to the end of my legislative career. I believe that all of us have a responsibility to utilize our experiences to support our communities. I look forward to continuing my work in improving the lives of at-risk youth and families.”