Lawmakers barely got out of Annapolis before Gov. Larry Hogan sent a message about how the Senate handled his appointments.
Two of the most contentious appointments — Wendi Peters and Dennis Schrader — were re-appointed by Hogan Tuesday, less than a day after the 90-day legislative session ended. The appointments were not announced in any statement by the governor but were confirmed by Douglass Mayer, a Hogan spokesman.
“For three months they played games with Secretary Schrader and he is too important to the people of Maryland to be subject to the whims of partisan politicians,” Mayer said in a text message.
The appointments set up a potential conflict between Hogan and Senate Democrats.
“We’re keeping all of our options on the table,” said Sen. William “Bill” Ferguson, D-Baltimore and chairman of the Senate Executive Nominations Committee.
One of those options is the possibility of seeking a court injunction against the governor and his appointments.
Peters, who was appointed secretary of the Department of Planning, was withdrawn from consideration a month ago after the Senate Executive Nominations Committee voted to send the full Senate a recommendation to reject her appointment.
Hogan withdrew the name less than an hour after the vote, saying Peters was unfairly questioned because she was a woman.
The Senate later put language in the operating budget that would prevent Hogan from paying Peters in her role as acting secretary, beginning July 1, because her recess nomination had been withdrawn before the full Senate could act.
Schrader’s appointment was controversial for different reasons. The secretary-designee of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene saw his interview delayed, as was a final vote.
Hogan unexpectedly withdrew Schrader’s nomination two weeks ago on the belief that the acting secretary would not get a confirmation vote before midnight Monday — a contention that Sen. William “Bill” Ferguson, chairman of the Senate Executive Nominations Committee, has repeatedly said was unfounded.
An 11th-hour deal to revive Schrader’s appointment was nixed even as the Senate took an unofficial straw vote in an effort to show Hogan that Schrader would likely be confirmed. In return for confirming Schrader, the Senate wanted assurances that Hogan would not re-appoint Peters or others who had been withdrawn this session.
Hogan, when asked by a reporter about the proposal, said Monday: “No deal.”
The budget language that applied to Peters would also apply to Schrader, Ferguson said.
“As is the case on a lot of issues, the good senator is wrong,” Mayer said in a text. “The language they smuggled into the budget is unconstitutional and they know it.”
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