(UPDATE, 5:10 p.m.: The Maryland Democratic Party has responded to Hogan.)
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan sharply criticized the Democrat-controlled General Assembly for passage of a bill expanding the authority of the attorney general.
Hogan, in an interview on the C4 Show on WBAL-AM, said the majority party in the legislature lied to the public when passing the resolution earlier this week and said the only thing Democrats have delivered on in the first 40 days of the session is focusing on politics.
“I thought it was outrageous and disgraceful and, quite frankly, it was probably the lowest point I’ve ever seen in the legislature,” Hogan said, speaking of the passage of Senate Resolution 5, which grants Attorney General Brian E. Frosh the authority to sue the federal government.
Previously, the Office of the Attorney General needed the approval of the governor or legislature to sue. Democrats said Frosh sought approval from Hogan to sue after President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning travel and immigration from seven countries.
On Wednesday, the House gave final approval to the Senate version of the resolution and House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. signed it that same day. The resolution cannot be vetoed by the governor.
Supporters of the resolution said the authority will allow Frosh to react quickly to other changes to federal laws and regulations, including the expected repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Hogan said the bill lacks checks and balances.
“This blanket resolution, which doesn’t even come to the governor’s office for a signature or for a veto, just automatically grants wide-ranging powers to the attorney general to basically sue the federal government or I guess anyone else for anything he wants any time without any checks or balances or restraints,” Hogan said. “In the past, you’d have to get the approval of the governor or the legislature. Now he can ignore both branches of government and just go off on some wild, crazy effort — whatever he woke up that morning wanting to do.
“It’s outrageous,” Hogan continued. “It’s probably unconstitutional. The person that would have to challenge its constitutionality would be himself, Brian Frosh, the attorney general. So, it’s a complicated, convoluted process. Who knows how many tens of millions of (state taxpayer) dollars may be wasted chasing windmills and trying to insert themselves into issues that really should not be the purview of our state attorney general.”
Hogan also said the legislature has lied to the public when passing the resolution, noting that an analysis of the measure states that the new authority can be handled with existing resources. A complimentary bill that is being considered by the legislature mandates the governor earmark $1 million annually to pay for five attorneys who will be assigned specifically to handle lawsuits against the federal government.
“The resolution they have says there is no expense and there will be no cost,” Hogan said. “Then they turned around with the very next bill and said we lied to you by saying there’s no cost because now we need money because there’s going to be costs. It’s absurd. They don’t have any regard for the law whatsoever.”
Hogan, in the interview, said he has tried to remain focused on governing the state and accused the legislature of focusing on politics and tying him to Trump.
“The only two things they accomplished — we’re just about half way through our 90-day session… — and the only two things they’ve accomplished was this crazy changing the rules for the first time since 1864 so they can play politics in Washington and they’ve hired somebody full-time at the Maryland Democratic Party to attack me,” Hogan said.
(Hogan was referring to the party hiring Bryan Lesswing as a communications adviser who will reportedly focus on “holding the governor accountable.”)
“That’s one promise they seem to be delivering on,” Hogan said. “They seem to be focused on nothing but politics.”