Lawmakers OK Two More Subpoenas in Maryland Environmental Service Probe

On Monday the General Assembly’s Legislative Police Committee approved two new subpoenas — one for former MES Managing Director of Finance Michael Harris and the other for current MES Managing Director of Communications Dan Faoro. Screenshot.

Senior members of the Maryland General Assembly have approved two new subpoenas in the probe into a lucrative severance package that Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan’s former chief of staff received in 2020.

The controversial payout to Roy McGrath was approved by the Maryland Environmental Service (MES) when he stepped down as the agency’s CEO to work for Hogan (R) last spring. McGrath had run the quasi-governmental agency for three years.

McGrath received nearly $300,000 in severance and expense reimbursement when he left the service to take a $234,000 job with the governor. MES board members said they felt uneasy about the payout but didn’t want to cross Hogan or his new top aide.

McGrath assured board members that Hogan “anticipated” the severance, a claim the governor has denied.

The legislature’s Joint Committee on Fair Practices and State Personnel Oversight has held several hearings on the matter, including two high-profile sessions at which McGrath and Matthew Sherring, the former director of operations at MES, testified.

The sessions yielded little, as the pair invoked their right not to incriminate themselves more than 150 times each.

On Monday the General Assembly’s Legislative Policy Committee approved two new subpoenas — one for former MES Managing Director of Finance Michael Harris and the other for current MES Managing Director of Communications Dan Faoro.

The subpoenas were requested by Ward B. Coe III, the outside counsel retained by the committee on personnel oversight.

“Based on [McGrath and Sherring’s] testimony, and our review of documents produced by MES and others, we believe that a complete and thorough investigation of MES requires that Messrs. Harris and Faoro testify before the Joint Committee,” Coe told lawmakers in a Jan. 15 letter.

Senate President Pro Tem Melony Griffith (D-Prince George’s) said it was important that the two men testify, “so the committee can advance their work and get the information they need to complete their investigation.”

The vote of the bipartisan panel was unanimous.

Attempts to reach Harris and Faoro on Monday were unsuccessful.

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Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent nearly three decades on local television, including 14 years as executive producer and host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the Washington, D.C., area. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County and as reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. He's a regular contributor to WTOP (103.5 FM) and frequently moderates community and political events.