A state Senate committee gave its unanimous approval Monday for former state prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt to join the Maryland Racing Commission.
Davitt, who stepped down as prosecutor late last year after almost a decade on the job, was nominated to serve on the commission by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).
“Given some of the challenges of the racing commission, I’m pleased to have someone of his caliber being nominated,” said state Sen. Clarence K. Lam (D-Howard) during Davitt’s confirmation hearing in the Senate Executive Nominations Committee.
If approved by the full Senate, Davitt would join a commission that has been rocked by suggestions, aired in The Baltimore Sun, that some commissioners are too close to the industry they are supposed to be overseeing.
Davitt has served several roles in state government, including as general counsel to the Maryland Public Service Commission, and as an assistant attorney general. Davitt told senators that he was excited to resume his government service.
“I can promise that I will serve on this commission diligently and honestly,” he said.
Asked during his confirmation hearing by Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) for his views on the future of the Preakness and the horse racing industry in general, Davitt demurred and said he would leave it to the legislature to chart the future of the industry. Currently, lawmakers are considering legislation that would inject more than $300 million into improvements at Pimlico Race Course, the home of the Preakness, and Laurel Park.
“I don’t mean to dodge you,” Davitt said. “I know there is a lot before the legislature right now.”
That answer appeared to please Ferguson.