Hogan can’t escape the corruption that’s marked Trump’s presidency

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at a coronavirus press conference in Annapolis on March 12, 2020. (Matt McDonald/For The Diamondback)

Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.

While Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has tried his best to separate himself from President Donald Trump, he has clearly failed in one manner: preventing corruption from within his office. While not as numerous as the near-daily scandals that come out of the White House, Hogan and his colleagues have long, checkered histories of “casual corruption.”

On Oct. 15, the Maryland General Assembly issued a subpoena to Hogan’s former chief of staff, Roy McGrath. McGrath will be compelled to testify regarding a several-hundred-thousand-dollar severance payout he received upon resigning from the Maryland Environmental Service when he went to work for Hogan. The full facts of the case have yet to be discovered, but it’s possible the governor had some level of direct knowledge of this obscene misappropriation of government funds. The largest question at this point is whether Hogan approved the payout.

Interestingly, McGrath is the first member of an executive branch that has been the target of a General Assembly subpoena since Hogan himself was compelled to testify in front of a General Assembly panel in 2006. As the appointments secretary for Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr., Hogan was implicated in an alleged scheme to fire numerous state employees based on their partisan affiliations. The allegations were unresolved and eventually cast to the wayside, but the scandal is an extremely notable (yet forgotten) point in Hogan’s career. 

Of course, the corruption didn’t stop there. In January, Hogan was yet again accused of misappropriating state funds. In this situation, he was accused of rerouting state funds to advance infrastructure investments that could benefit his own companies. In particular, concerns have been raised over his ownership of a parcel of land that lies near a new highway interchange; Hogan’s administration just so happened to allocate $58 million for the construction  of the new interchange several months before he took ownership of the land.

By themselves, each of these scandals could be considered “one-offs” or perhaps simple misunderstandings. When analyzed together, however, it becomes clear that Hogan has allowed corruption to fester around him at almost every stage of his political career. Corruption isn’t new to Maryland (see: Spiro Agnew, Tawanna Gaines, Sheila Dixon and many more), but it is profound that this manifestation of government impropriety has come from the highest levels of the executive branch.

Given his recent memoir and planned book tour, Hogan is possibly eyeing the White House in 2024. If he does, he will likely pin his hopes on moderates that despise Trump’s rhetoric yet aren’t keen on the progressive left’s rising influence in the Democratic Party. Hogan is a classic example of the “fiscal conservative yet social liberal” that centrists fawn over. Coupled with the fact that he’s emerged as one of the most prominent Republicans critiquing the cartoonishly corrupt figures within the White House, Hogan has turned into a centrist’s darling in recent years.

Well, moderates, be warned. Larry Hogan is as amoral as any of the ghouls in the White House — the scary thing is that he has us convinced otherwise.

Josh Binderman is a senior government and politics major. He can be reached at jmbinderman@gmail.com.

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