Gov. Larry Hogan Tuesday said his predecessor, former Gov. Martin O’Malley, was less than forthright in his published explanation of a controversial purchase of state-owned furniture from the governor’s mansion.
O’Malley, in an interview with the Washington Post, said he believed much of the flap over the purchase of 54 items — armoires, beds, chairs, desks, lamps, mirrors, ottomans, tables and other pieces — for $9,638 was driven by his presidential campaign. The Democratic former governor said his wife, Baltimore District Court Judge Catherine Curran O’Malley, told Hogan and his wife that the pieces would be purchased by the O’Malleys in January, according to the paper.
But Hogan on Tuesday contradicted O’Malley’s account and stopped short of saying his predecessor lied.
“I can tell you it’s absolutely, blatantly false. at no time did Governor O’Malley or the first lady ever mention anything about their plan to take the 54 pieces of furniture — didn’t talk about it, had no idea, it was never mentioned,” Hogan said. “He simply made that up for The Washington Post. In fact, while we were taking the tour that he referenced in the paper, I asked: ‘This is a beautiful living room and family room. We love this. Does this belong to the state or is this your furniture you brought with you from Baltimore?’ And he said: ‘This is mine.'”
“And it wasn’t. It was owned by the taxpayers so yes he was misleading, no question about it,” Hogan said.
The state ethics commission is reviewing the purchase to see if it violates a Board of Public Works policy prohibiting preferential sales of government property to public officials. The state paid $62,000 for the pieces, which were at least eight years old.
The purchases were first reported by The Baltimore Sun based on documents and emails obtained under the Maryland Public Information Act.
The paper went on to report that the process of reviewing the furniture and determining condition and what would be sold typically takes weeks. For the O’Malleys, that process took one day, according to the paper.
Hogan’s statement Tuesday was the second time he has criticized O’Malley for the furniture purchase.
Just after the Sun story broke, Hogan posted a message about it on social media.
“If they call that expensive, beautiful, barely used furniture ‘junk’, I’d hate to hear what they call the 20 year old stuff I brought with me from my house to replace it all,” Hogan wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday. “And if it was so bad and ready to be ‘thrown out’, why would you try so hard to take all with you to your new house?”