Rob Sobhani appeared out of nowhere in September 2012 to launch his U.S. Senate campaign in Maryland. Does he care that a grueling election has been underway for more than a year? Not really. He recently hit a jackpot, he joked.
So he decided to run for the U.S. Senate instead of buying another house. He has poured millions into TV ads, quickly outspending both Democrat incumbent Cardin and Republican Challenger Dan Bongino. To put his name on the November ballot, Sobhani paid Arno Political Consultants, which has been accused of deceptive practices in other campaigns. Sobhani, an Azerbaijani-American and a Georgetown University academic, leveraged his family ties to the Azerbaijani president into multi-million dollar consulting contracts with AMOCO, the U.S. oil and gas giant.
He touts his connections: “I’m proud to know the president of Azerbaijan … I’m proud to know the king of Bahrain … to know King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia … the Amir of Qatar.” What is Sobhani’s plan for Maryland? In interviews with local reporters, he proposes billion-dollar spending programs and overseas business trips for Middle Eastern contracts. To be sure, Sobhani has raised more questions in the minds of Maryland voters than answers.