“Hatchet Man” Hogan’s Illegal Loyalty Tests for State Employees Mirrors Trump Politics

Mar 14, 2018

Annapolis, MD — The Maryland Democratic Party is demanding that Larry Hogan come clean about his loyalty tests for state employees and today filed a Public Information Act (PIA) request for all communications and directives sent out by Hogan’s Appointments Office regarding hiring policies of at-will civil servant positions.  The request comes after reports that Larry Hogan is ignoring the advice of his own lawyers and requiring that all candidates for top civil servant positions go through his appointments office for approval.  The practice is a violation of a law passed by Democrats in the state legislature after Hogan spear-headed a mass purge of state employees while serving as one-term Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich’s appointments secretary.  Hogan’s counsel said the practice is “inconsistent with State law.” 


Just last week, state lawmakers raised red flags after Hogan fired Billy Rice and Rachel Dean, two veteran watermen serving on the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission, as political payback after Rice and Dean questioned Hogan’s arbitrary firing of Brenda Davis last year.  At the time, Davis oversaw Maryland crab management program at the Department of Natural Resources.


“Governor Hogan’s illegal loyalty tests are straight out of Donald Trump’s playbook and show that he still hasn’t learned that state employees serve the people of Maryland and not him,” said Maryland Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Matthews.  “Marylanders deserve a governor they can trust, not a political hack who hunts down and fires talented public servants.”


Hogan’s reputation as a “hatchet man” derives from his tenure as Ehrlich’s appointments secretary, when Hogan’s first task was to send letters to thirty high-level state appointed officials, notifying them that they would be replaced.


Following complaints from state employees, in February 2005, lawmakers began investigating if Hogan’s mass terminations were solely based on political affiliation. According to state worker testimonies, “… the Ehrlich administration systematically got rid of state employees believed to be politically or personally disloyal to the governor.” The Baltimore Sun noted that Hogan oversaw, approved and publicly defended all of these firings and hirings.


By late 2005, a special probe formed to investigate the Ehrlich administration firings found that Hogan’s previous statements were in conflict with employment records data. 


committee report later concluded that political motivations were largely behind state employee terminations:


“… the committee found that separations and terminations of at-will employees under the current Administration occurred that were arbitrary or inconsistent with improving government or, in other cases, illegal because the separations were based on political considerations in violation of employees First Amendment constitutional rights and State law.”