U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur, after unsealing the latest corruption charge against a former Maryland lawmaker, said his office takes political corruption seriously but is not singularly focused on prosecuting elected officials.
Hur’s office, on Monday, accused former Del. Cheryl Glenn of fraud and bribery. She is the third former state legislator to face corruption charges from the U.S. Attorney’s office since October.
“We take it extraordinarily seriously, and when there is evidence that comes to light of this type of conduct (from) the FBI, we will see it through and follow it wherever it may lead. As for the volume … I’m not able to comment on …. what else that portrays other than the fact we take that sort of conduct and kind of corruption very, very seriously,” Hur said.
During his tenure as U.S. attorney for Maryland, Hur’s office has produced significant indictments in other criminal areas, including 90 criminal indictments against gang members accused of drug dealing and various acts of violence.
But his office’s highest-profile cases have focused on elected officials, such as former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.
Hur is a graduate of Harvard University and Stanford Law School, where he served as an executive editor of the Stanford Law Review. After law school he served as a clerk to former Chief Justice William Rehnquist before starting his career in the U.S. Department of Justice in 2003 as counsel and special assistant, criminal division.
He stayed in that role until 2005, according to his LinkedIn page, before leaving to become an associate at King & Spalding LLP. He again joined the U.S. Department of Justice in 2007 as an assistant U.S. attorney before again leaving the Justice Apartment to join King & Spalding as a partner.
In 2017 Hur returned to the Justice Department as principal associate deputy attorney general serving as the top aide to then U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Hur eventually received the role as Maryland’s U.S. attorney when President Donald Trump appointed him in April 2018 to fill the role left vacant by Rosenstein, who joined the administration as deputy attorney general.
The charges against Glenn, who resigned office last week, come roughly a month after former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who previously served as a state senator, admitted her guilt to four federal counts involving conspiracy and tax evasion. In October former Del. Tawanna Gaines, D-Prince George’s, pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge.
A fourth former state legislator, Nathaniel “Nat” Oaks, was convicted in July 2018 roughly three months after Hur’s appointment as U.S. attorney. But that investigation started under Rosenstein’s tenure.
So far all of the elected officials charged by Hur have been black Democrats. That fact has not escaped notice by Del. Darryl Barnes, D-Prince George’s, and chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.
“I don’t want to make allegations or point fingers but just look at the trend of who’s getting caught up in some of these allegations. Should they know better? Absolutely. But again, I think if you look at the trend, that trend doesn’t sit well,” Barnes said. “If you look at the number of people that are just caught up in this stuff, it just makes for a bad day, not only for the African-American community but also for the Maryland General Assembly at large.”
But according to one expert the recent spate of political corruption charges aren’t particularly rare or unique in Maryland.
Matthew Crenson, a professor emeritus of political science at Johns Hopkins University and author of “Baltimore: A Political History,” said Maryland politics is littered with names of politicians like Spiro T. Agnew, Marvin Mandel, and Walter Orlinsky who all were eventually caught up in corruption.
“They tend to come in spasms,” Crenson said.
Maryland’s General Assembly has historically struggled with corruption, he said, and the fact that state lawmakers have been enticing targets for Hur’s office isn’t particularly surprising.
“The state legislature has been a source of convictions for quite a long time,” he said. “It’s a Maryland tradition.”