ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland lawmakers said Wednesday they will continue investigating a six-figure severance package and large expenses that a former chief of staff to Gov. Larry Hogan received as he transitioned from a state agency to the governor's office — after the former aide repeatedly declined to answer questions before a legislative panel.
Sen. Clarence Lam, a Democrat who co-chairs a legislative oversight committee, said Roy McGrath should be “ashamed” for expenses incurred while “globetrotting” and receiving $233,000 severance when he moved from chairman of the board at the Maryland Environmental Service to the governor's office — at a time when many faced economic hardships during the pandemic.
“Mr. McGrath, you were the highest representative of the governor, and as such you should have held yourself to a higher standard,” Lam said. "Instead, you betrayed the public trust for your own benefit, and I think for that you should be ashamed.”
McGrath was subpoenaed and questioned by Ward Coe, an attorney for the Maryland General Assembly. McGrath repeatedly invoked his right against self-incrimination.
“On the advice of counsel and pursuant my legal rights, I respectfully decline to answer that question,” McGrath said throughout the afternoon.
Del. Erek Barron, a Democrat who co-chairs the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Fair Practices and Personnel Oversight, described what happened and the lack of answers as “very troublesome.”
“It seems to me we’ve heard a lot of evidence about large unwarranted, unprecedented payouts for a lateral move within state government,” Barron said. "I haven’t heard much of any opposition to that or anything to counter that evidence.”
A separate bipartisan legislative committee voted unanimously to subpoena McGrath.
McGrath became Hogan’s chief of staff on June 1 after more than three years as head of MES. He resigned Aug. 17, two days after he defended the payout.
McGrath defended receiving the money in an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun, which first reported the payout. He noted that other executives at the board have received severance packages “over many years.”
Lawmakers have been trying to find out what the Republican governor may have known about the payment. Hogan has said he did not “approve, recommend, or have any involvement whatsoever in any of these decisions made by the board of directors of MES.”