Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s chief of staff resigned Monday after criticism for accepting a six-figure severance package when he left his job at an independent state agency to work in the governor’s office.
Roy McGrath announced his resignation two days after he defended a $234,000 payout from the Maryland Environmental Service, which was reported last week by The Baltimore Sun. On Monday, he said it was causing “unnecessary distractions."
“For me, this entire topic is simply the sad politics of personal destruction, and right now, we cannot afford unnecessary distractions from the critical work the governor and his team are doing," McGrath said in a statement released by the governor's office Monday. “For this reason, I have advised the governor that I am exiting state service."
On Friday, Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones described the payout as “truly shocking" and called for hearings.
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“This was the right decision for the state of Maryland," Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, said. “There remain outstanding questions about the payments to Mr. McGrath and how we got here, and we must continue to investigate."
Jones also said the resignation was the right decision.
“We are public servants who are accountable to the taxpayers — not our own self interest,” Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, wrote on Twitter.
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The board of the MES agreed to a severance package of one year’s salary for McGrath -- identified in budget records at $233,647 -- and $5,250 in tuition reimbursements, The Sun reported. McGrath became chief of staff on June 1 and earned a similar salary to what he had at MES.
Sen. Clarence Lam and Del. Erek Barron, the co-chairs of the Maryland General Assembly's Joint Committee on Fair Practices and State Personnel Oversight, said in a statement Saturday that the payment “raises serious questions," noting that the board's members are appointed by the governor.
“This arrangement raises potential conflicts of interest, particularly when the severance package is designated for the Governor’s incoming chief-of-staff," they wrote.
Hogan, a Republican, announced Monday he was naming Keiffer Mitchell to serve as acting chief of staff.
In a statement, the governor wrote that McGrath “has been a deeply valued member of our administration.”
“I recognize that this was a difficult decision for Roy, but I understand and respect his reasons for making this decision. I have always known Roy to be someone of the highest character, and I wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Hogan said Mitchell would step into the job immediately.
“He has a proven track record for bringing people together and working across the aisle, and I thank him for stepping up to serve at this important time," Hogan said.