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Government & Politics

‘Green Bag’ report: Like Hogan, Moore taps campaign chair to head Stadium Authority board

Tisha Edwards, secretary of appointments for Gov. Wes Moore (D), delivered more than 300 appointments for state boards and commissions to Senate President Bill Ferguson (D) on Friday. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Gov. Wes Moore (D) on Friday tapped his campaign chair to serve as chair of the Maryland Stadium Authority board.

He also named a former head of the Maryland Energy Administration to become chair of the Public Service Commission.

Craig Thompson, a mentor to the new governor and a partner at the law firm Venable LLP, will replace Tom Kelso, who served as Stadium Authority chair under former Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Coincidentally, Kelso was the chair of Hogan’s two campaigns for governor, and remains connected to the former governor politically.

The Moore administration’s announcement that Thompson would helm the increasingly powerful Stadium Authority was just one of more than 300 appointments to 65 state boards and commissions that the administration submitted to the state Senate on Friday, part of the annual “Green Bag” process. Following a tradition that dates back to 17th century England, the governor’s appointments in Maryland have been delivered to the Senate by a member of the governor’s staff on the third Friday in February.

With the change in administrations just a month ago, the pace of activity is considerably higher on the personnel front in 2023 than it is most years. Last year, Hogan submitted 151 names of people he had selected to serve on boards and commissions.

Tisha Edwards, Moore’s Appointments secretary, handed the leather satchel to Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) on the Senate rostrum and said it contained 307 names. “Four hundred more to go,” she said.

“Sleepless nights ahead, I am quite certain,” Ferguson said in response. He added that the Senate Executive Nominations Committee was eager to dig into Moore’s list. The Senate will vote to confirm Moore’s nominees, and as Edwards hinted, lawmakers are expecting hundreds of more nominees to come their way before the General Assembly session ends on April 10.

In addition to tapping Thompson to head the Stadium Authority, which has a broad portfolio and has become a leading construction agency in state government, Moore named two other members to serve on the MSA board: Yolanda Martinez, the chief strategy officer at Project Enhancement Corporation, a Germantown-based federal contractor in the environmental, health, safety, and national security space, and Lee Coplan, CEO of of Hord Coplan Macht, Maryland’s largest architecture firm. All three nominees have long records of civic involvement in the state.

“With backgrounds spanning law, negotiation, entrepreneurship, and planning and design, they will bring a wealth of expertise and valuable perspectives to the Stadium Authority,” Moore said in a statement. “The MSA has important work on its agenda this year, including establishing a new long-term partnership with the Baltimore Orioles and implementing the state’s $400 million investment in the Blue Line Corridor [in Prince George’s County]. I am confident that these nominees are the right people for the job.”

Last month, Moore rescinded several appointments to boards and commissions that Hogan had made since last year’s legislative session, including Kelso’s. So Thompson would take over the Stadium Authority board as soon as he’s confirmed by the state Senate. Coplan and Martinez, if they’re confirmed, would begin their four-year terms on July 1, taking over for Joseph Bryce, an Annapolis lobbyist who has worked for former Govs. Martin O’Malley (D) and Parris Glendening (D) and the late state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D), and Gary Mangum, a top Hogan donor who is the former CEO of a chain of nurseries.

Remaking the Public Service Commission

Moore also announced two nominees to serve on the Maryland Public Service Commission, the state’s energy and utility regulator, which is playing an increasingly prominent role in the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean energy. As with Kelso, Moore rescinded two PSC appointments that Hogan had made during the last interim: Patrice Bubar, who was appointed by Hogan to serve through 2024, and Odogwu Obi Linton, appointed to serve through 2027.

On Friday, Moore nominated Fred Hoover, an attorney at the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel who ran the Maryland Energy Administration during the Glendening administration and was the agency’s deputy under O’Malley, to replace Jason Stanek as PSC chair. Stanek’s five-year term as chair of the five-member commission expires on June 30.

The OPC is a small state agency that represents consumers’ interests on utility matters before the PSC, and frequently is at odds with the commission. The OPC in recent years has also amped up pressure on the PSC to more proactively work to combat climate change.

After leaving the Maryland Energy Administration in the early months of the Hogan administration, Hoover went to work as a senior program director for the National Association of State Energy Officials, based in Arlington, Va.

Moore also nominated Juan Alvarado, senior director of energy analysis at the American Gas Association who previously spent a dozen years at the PSC as an economist and as the director of the telecommunications, gas and water division, to replace either Bubar or Linton. A spokesman for the governor, Carter Elliott IV, said the administration has yet to determine which slot Alvarado will take. Moore may announce a third appointment to the PSC later in the legislative session.

Other appointments

The Moore nominations cover everything from the state’s Agricultural and Resource Based Industry Development Corporation Board of Directors and the Calvert County Board of Electrical Examiners and Supervisors to the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center Governing Board and the State Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Moore also nominated members to serve on 22 of the state’s 24 local elections boards. Under Maryland’s Constitution, the governor’s party maintains majority control on each board of elections, so the Republican majorities of the Hogan era will now transition to Democratic majorities later in the year, pending the nominees’ confirmation by the state Senate.

The Moore administration, which has vowed to diversify state government, touted the diversity of its Green Bag appointments. According to the administration:

  • 57% of the new Green Bag nominations are women, while currently 45% of members of the boards that got new nominees on Friday are women.
  • 45% of the new Green Bag nominations are people of color, compared to 27% on the boards as currently constituted.
  • 27% of the new Green Bag nominations are women of color, compared to 16% on the boards with new nominees.

According to the 2020 Census, fewer than half of Marylanders now identify as white.

“I made a commitment to Marylanders that we would create a government that looks like the state of Maryland, and I am thrilled to say that our Office of Appointments has followed through on that promise by presenting a group of nominees that is both representative of our state and incredibly qualified,” Moore said. “These appointments represent an incredible shift toward inclusion in our state government.”

Moore cabinet appointments

In a related development, the state Senate on Friday voted unanimously to confirm eight of Moore’s Cabinet appointments. But following a request from Senate Minority Leader Stephen S. Hershey Jr. (R-Upper Shore), senators put off a debate on Vincent Schiraldi, Moore’s pick to head the Department of Juvenile Services, until Tuesday.

Republicans on the Senate Executive Nominations Committee asked Schiraldi pointed questions during his confirmation hearing on Monday about his record and views on juvenile justice. Republicans on the panel voted against sending his nomination to the full Senate on Wednesday.

In a brief interview Friday, Hershey said he asked for the delay so that the full Senate Republican Caucus could discuss Schiraldi at their regular Tuesday morning caucus meeting before the Senate session and whether they wanted to collectively oppose his nomination. Democrats hold a 33-13 edge in the Senate, with one vacancy, so Schiraldi is almost certain to win confirmation.


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‘Green Bag’ report: Like Hogan, Moore taps campaign chair to head Stadium Authority board