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Government & Politics

Political Notes: Moore pulls back Hogan recess appointees, Lierman’s government affairs team, advocacy and lobbying firm news

Outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and incoming Gov. Wes Moore (D) spoke to reporters at a State House news conference shortly after Moore’s election in 2022. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Gov. Wes Moore (D) has withdrawn 48 of former Gov. Larry Hogan’s 316 recess appointments submitted last July to the Senate for approval, including Maryland Stadium Authority Chair Thomas E. Kelso.

Kelso, Hogan’s former campaign chair, was one of the Republican former governor’s first appointments after taking office in 2015 and has overseen the agency as it expanded its reach over the last 8 years.

“The Administration thanks Tom Kelso for his eight years of service as the chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority,” a statement from Moore’s press office read. “Under his leadership, the MSA carried out important projects that positively impacted communities statewide.

“The Administration looks forward to working with him until a new chair is announced in the near future,” the statement continued.

It was unclear why Moore singled out 48 nominees from the 316 recess appointments Hogan announced last July 12, though the press office offered this explanation in its statement:

“It’s customary for an incoming administration to review recess appointments. We reviewed each … that Gov. Hogan submitted and withdrew 48, more than twice the standard 20 or so during a transition in administration.”

Officials called the withdraws “the first of an ongoing effort to expand representation and for more Marylanders to have the opportunity to serve.”

In a Jan. 23 letter Moore informed Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) that he would submit the names of his nominees to replace Hogan’s appointments next month. The names are submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent.

The Senate Executive Nominations Committee, which makes recommendations on the governor’s appointments, meets for the first time this session on Monday, when it is scheduled to take up 15 of Hogan’s recess appointments to the District Court statewide.

Moore also withdrew the names of eight members — including both co-chairs — of the Maryland Economic Development Commission, a panel that advises the state Department of Commerce on economic development policy. Hogan had reconstituted the board after taking office in 2015.

He also pulled back the names of two Hogan appointees to the University of Maryland Board of Regents, two members of the Public Service Commission, two members of the State Racing Commission and one member of the State Board of Education.

The new governor withdrew the name of Howard County Councilman David G. Yungmann (R), from his spot on the board of the Maryland Economic Development Corp., an agency that can issue bonds for the purchase and development of properties. MEDCo Board member J. Michael Cottingham’s name was also withdrawn.

“The administration would like to thank these individuals for their willingness to serve,” the press office statement read.

Lierman seeks action on federal debt ceiling

Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman (D) joined 12 other fiscal officers across the nation in urging U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to live up to his constitutional duties by voting to increase the federal debt limit.

In a letter Wednesday to the speaker, Lierman and the others — 11 state treasurers and the comptroller of New York City, all Democrats — expressed “grave concern” about inaction by the House of Representatives on the debt ceiling, warning that failing to act would result in “catastrophic consequences” for the United States if it were to default on the national debt. The letter lists a litany of dire problems that would be caused by a first-ever default.

“We urge you to honor your duty as outlined in the Constitution and act immediately to ensure the validity of the public debt and thus our national security and prosperity,” the letter reads.

The U.S. hit its debt limit earlier this month, prompting U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to warn Congress on Thursday that her agency would resort to “extraordinary measures” to stay beneath the cap — until the House acts. McCarthy and the House Republicans are attempting to use the debt limit — a perennial fight — as leverage to force budget cuts.

In addition to Lierman and New York City’s comptroller, the letter to McCarthy was signed by the treasurers of Oregon, Nevada, Massachusetts, Vermont, Illinois, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maine, Colorado, Connecticut and Washington state.

Lierman’s emissaries

Speaking of Lierman, the new comptroller announced Wednesday that she’s adding three new staffers to her government relations team, part of her campaign pledge to work closely with elected officials at the federal, state and local levels.

Lierman had previously named Joe Francaviglia, a seasoned operative and her former campaign manager, as director of Government Affairs. Joining him will be:

  • Justin Hayes will serve as director of State Affairs, and will lead the day-to-day management of state legislative initiatives for the agency. He held a similar position under Lierman’s predecessor, former Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), and has worked in three different divisions during his six years with the agency. Hayes has also worked for former U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and former U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.).
  • Eve Shuman will serve as the director of Intergovernmental Affairs, focused on engaging with the federal government and local officials. She worked most recently as Prince George’s County director for U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Prince George’s County Council last year.
  • Caroline Bauk will take the role of government affairs associate, working in a variety of capacities for the government affairs team. She worked most recently for former House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke (D), who left the legislature to become Gov. Wes Moore’s chief legislative officer.

“In just a few short days of officially being on the job, it is clear there are so many opportunities where the Comptroller’s office can play a leading role in making the lives of Marylanders better,” Lierman said.

A call to the Firehouse

Scarlet Oak Strategies, an Annapolis-based public affairs and communications firm launched 6 1/2 years ago by Democratic strategist Raymond Glendening, was acquired this week by Firehouse Strategies, Washington, D.C., public affairs and communications firm with offices in New York and Florida.

The merger is, in essence, a marriage of a Democratic firm and a Republican shop. Firehouse was started by veterans of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 White House campaign.

Scarlet Oak Strategies will remain an operating company and maintain its branding, leadership team, clients, and focus on advocacy outside of D.C. around federal, state, and local issues. Glendening will become a partner at Firehouse Strategies, while Brian Doory, who has been a managing director at Scarlet Oak, will take the same title at Firehouse.

“I view this as an opportunity to align with a firm that has a strong cultural connection,” Glendening wrote in an email to his firm’s clients.

As the Annapolis lobbying world turns 

You’ll still see her this General Assembly session in the halls of legislative buildings, but lobbyist Moira Cyphers has left the Annapolis firm Compass Government Relations Partners LLC, where she was a partner, for a role with the American Clean Power Association, where she’ll be director of Eastern State Affairs. ACP is the largest clean energy trade association in the nation, formerly known as the American Wind Energy Association.

Cyphers was an Annapolis lobbyist for eight years — for the firm Alexander & Cleaver before helping launch Compass — and previously served as a General Assembly staffer. She also worked on the 2014 gubernatorial campaign of then-Del. Heather Mizeur (D).

Speaking of familiar faces in the lobbying corps with a new title, Andrew Griffin, who had been vice president for Government Affairs at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce has been promoted to senior Vice President for Government Affairs. He has been working at the business group since 2019.

“Andrew has provided strategic, astute legislative support to the Maryland business community throughout his time at the Chamber,” said Mary Kane, the chamber’s president and CEO. “His leadership has played a critical role in shaping polices that make our state stronger and more competitive for business growth.”

Prior to working at the Chamber, Griffin was director of advocacy for the University of Maryland and worked for the Hogan administration before that.