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Bid to break the silence over six-figure payout

Governor's former chief of staff forced to testify over severance
Posted at 4:40 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 17:11:51-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — After five weeks, two hearings, five hours’ worth of testimony and a load of documents, state lawmakers still don’t know how Governor Larry Hogan’s former chief of staff got more than $200,000 in severance money from his former agency, but they’ve heard and seen enough to merit action.

“Allegations of corruption and misuse of power are serious,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson. “They require immediate attention.”

In a virtual hearing on Wednesday, a state panel heard plenty about Roy McGrath’s expensive travel, company car and a lack of oversight while director of the Maryland Environmental Service, but it remains unclear whether the governor knew of McGrath’s payout or whether McGrath just made it seem so to the board, which approved the severance, and some lawmakers fear there is even more at stake.

“The overarching issues are, one, the culture of toxicity that existed in the environment at MES that could be, could possibly interfere with the mission,” said Sen. Jill Carter (D) Baltimore. “and the other, of course, is very similar to what we saw at University of Maryland Medical System---a culture of self-dealing by political appointees.”

But for now, lawmakers will be content to hear from the man in the middle of the controversy and the one he brought on board at the agency as his second in command.

“I move to issue a subpoena requiring Roy McGrath and Matthew Sherring to appear to testify before the Joint Committee on Fair Practices and Personnel Oversight within the next 30 days or on a mutually agreed date including any documents related to this testimony,” announced House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke.

The vote passed unanimously, and Governor Hogan issued his own call today for systematic reforms at the agency, including its financial oversight.