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Maryland Politics Your source of news and gossip from the Mason-Dixon line to the Potomac
5 Questions with DBED Secretary R. Michael Gill

When Gov. Larry Hogan appointed R. Michael Gill to be the new head of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, it was not the first time Gill had taken on a public role.

The longtime businessman was appointed to a five-year term on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents in 2004 and had served on the boards of numerous companies, schools and nonprofits in the area. Still, he said, to find himself in the middle of state government — leading an economic development agency for a governor who put the economy front and center — was a change in perspective.

"It's almost like a movie — a big poof of smoke — and now I'm standing in the middle. Now my optic is not out there, looking in. I'm here, looking out," he said.

Gill, the son of a county councilman, grew up in the Baltimore area. He attended Calvert Hall College High School, and Clemson and Towson universities; he received a degree in business from Towson in 1974. His first job was in sales at IBM. In 1984, he founded...

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Legislative black leaders to call for more comprehensive DOJ probe

National and state leaders of the Black Caucus plan to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a comprehensive investigation of  potential civil rights violations by the Baltimore Police Department. 

"We want a complete federal investigation," said Sen. Catherine Pugh, a Baltimore Democrat who is also president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.  

Pugh said they were requesting a review akin to the Justice Department's investigation of the Ferguson, Mo. police department last fall after the death of an unarmed black teenager there sparked nationwide outrage. 

The Justice Department is already involved in two probes in Baltimore: one into 25-year-old Freddie Gray's death from injuries while in police custody and another broad inquiry sparked by The Baltimore Sun's investigation last year into police brutality. 

Pugh said the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland will hold a 5:30 press conference at the Reginald F....

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Hogan promises to sign bill doubling max payouts in brutality cases

Gov. Larry Hogan plans to sign legislation that would double how much people injured by police can collect in civil lawsuits.

The announcement Friday afternoon follows the governor's promise Thursday to sign three other bills to encourage police departments to begin body camera programs and require them to report all police-related deaths to the Maryland State Police.

As demonstrations continue in Baltimore over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custody, Hogan has said he is willing to help the city whenever asked. 

The governor has put Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and former delegate Keiffer Mitchell in charge of coordinating the state's response with city leaders.  So far, Hogan has sent a team of nearly three dozen troopers to help with crowd control.

Maryland's legislature passed six laws this spring to address police brutality in the wake of a Baltimore Sun investigation that revealed officers had battered dozens of residents during questionable arrests. 

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Mayor, preachers express concerns about out-of-town protesters

A day before a national group plans a protest on Baltimore's streets over the death of Freddie Gray, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and two dozen clergy members and community leaders pleaded Friday for outsiders to behave peacefully while here. 

“Because Baltimore has a strong community, we don’t need help from outside of our city and state to deal with this," said the Rev. Frank M. Reid, of Bethel AME Church. "As you can see, there have been protests that have been very peaceful. We’re all working to get justice for Freddie Gray’s family," Reid said. "As a city, we are well capable to make sure justice is done.”  

A group organizing a weekend demonstration in Baltimore regarding the death of Freddie Gray said they expect a "wave will roll downtown to City Hall" during the Saturday event.

At a press conference Friday at the Western District police station, Malik Z. Shabazz, an attorney with the Washington D.C.-based Black Lawyers for Justice, called for a "shutdown" of the city if officers...

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Mayor cancels 'VIP' fundraiser amid Freddie Gray protests

With tensions running high in Baltimore about Freddie Gray's death, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's re-election campaign sent out an email Thursday inviting donors to a high-priced fundraiser next week. 

But hours later, the Rawlings-Blake campaign abruptly canceled the fundraiser, after The Sun asked about the timing of the email.

Campaign treasurer Charles G. Tildon III said Thursday the event was being canceled. 

"The email reminder that went out Thursday had been automatically programmed weeks ago, and we regret that no one remembered to cancel before it was sent," he said in a statement. "Next week’s fundraiser has been canceled." 

At about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Rawlings-Blake’s campaign sent out an email reminding supporters about the high-priced fundraiser she is holding next week. 

The email provided details about an April 29 event at the Hippodrome Theatre. The VIP portion of the event, which costs $6,000, runs from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. when the $1,000 "host" guests can gain entry....

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Defense Secretary reveals Russian hack of department's networks

Russian hackers infiltrated the Department of Defense's unclassified network earlier this year, Secretary Ashton B. Carter said in a speech at Stanford University Thursday.

The attack has not previously been reported. Carter said attackers discovered a vulnerability in an older network that hadn't been repaired. An elite Defense Department team identified the break-in and began looking for the culprits, he said.

"After learning valuable information about their tactics, we analyzed their network activity, associated it with Russia, and then quickly kicked them off the network, in a way that minimized their chances of returning," Carter said.

He offered few other details about the incident but said that while it was troubling Russian hackers had gained entry, he said the Pentagon had reacted rapidly.

The government is regularly targeted by hackers, but officials rarely place the blame publicly. Earlier this month CNN reported that the State Department and the White House had also been breached by...

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