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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Contempt ruling prompts Shea’s call for Schrader resignation

A Democratic candidate for governor is calling for the resignation of Dennis Schrader following a hearing in which the state’s secretary of health and four other officials were held in contempt of court.

Jim Shea, the former chair of Venable LLP, issued the statement Thursday evening, hours after Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Gale E. Rasin issued a blistering written opinion and statement from the bench castigating Schrader for failing to resolve issues that prevent defendants determined to be incompetent to stand trial from being moved into state hospitals.

Jim Shea discusses his plan to run for governor at The Daily Record offices. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Jim Shea discusses his plan to run for governor at The Daily Record offices. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

“Dennis Schrader is unqualified for the job and he should resign,” Shea said in a statement. “This is what happens when Larry Hogan appoints a woefully unqualified person to run a billion-dollar agency responsible for public health, and it brings back memories of when Governor Ehrlich appointed an ice skater to run the Port. Larry Hogan, who served as Governor Ehrlich’s secretary of appointments, should have known better.”

Brittany Fowler, a spokeswoman for Schrader, said the contempt finding “is about policy, not politics” and referred a reporter to Schrader’s statement Thursday in which he disagreed with Rasin’s finding.

She also provided a 2007 statement issued by Sen. Ben Cardin, who supported  Schrader’s appointment as deputy administrator for national preparedness in which the Democratic senator wrote that Schrader “worked across all levels of government and across party lines to build on existing state functions and local initiatives and leveraged new resources and strategies to create a continuous, cost effective, and sustainable ‘culture of preparedness’ in Maryland.”

Fowler did not respond when asked if Schrader would resign.

A spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan was not immediately available for comment.

In her decision, Rasin raised questions about Schrader’s ability to run the state Health Department, echoing some legislators who earlier this year questioned Schrader’s lack of public health experience.

“He perceives his responsibility to be to direct staff to solve the problems,” Rasin wrote. “He characterized himself as impatient to get things done and full of questions for staff. But the overall impression is that he is disconnected from the process.”

Schrader is a retired U.S. Navy captain and a professional engineer who has held senior positions in the public and private sectors. He served in executive positions at the University of Maryland Medical System Corporation from 1987 to 2003 and as Maryland’s homeland security director and as a Howard County elected official. 3a-opioids-schrader-dennis1bps

Schrader is already the subject of a legal entanglement over his appointment as acting secretary of the Maryland Department of Health after Hogan withdrew Schrader’s nomination and then re-appointed him after the 2017 session ended.

The legislature passed budget language prohibiting an appointed state official from receiving a salary if his or her nomination was withdrawn before a Senate confirmation vote. The language was also aimed at then-Planning Secretary Wendi Peters.

Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp has refused to pay Schrader and Peters since July 1. Schrader and Peters have since filed a lawsuit against Kopp and the state.

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