Hogan gifts include cigars, Tim McGraw's guitar and two rosaries from the pope

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan accepted 277 gifts in his first 16 months in office. Here's a few.

Two days after Gov. Larry Hogan announced his cancer diagnosis last year, the gifts started rolling in.

Books. Blankets. A box of cigars. A wooden goblet. Hats. More hats. Comfort kits. What eventually tallied up to 13 prayer shawls. Two rosaries from Pope Francis.

During his first 16 months in office, Hogan accepted 277 gifts he estimated to be worth at least $7,250, according to financial disclosure records filed this month.

The records show that only about a dozen of those gifts were worth more than $100, and the pace of generosity toward the new Republican governor picked up substantially after he publicly announced in June that he had been diagnosed with cancer. The gifts kept coming after he announced in November he was "100 percent cancer-free."

On his desk, Hogan keeps a big countdown clock that ticks off the remaining days, hours and minutes left in his term. It was a gift from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, who kept a similar clock, also a gift, on his Tallahassee desk during the waning years of his administration.

Hogan spokesman Matthew A. Clark said the governor routinely points to the clock when giving direction to top staff.

"It's a constant reminder that we need to work at an appropriate pace to bring about the changes that he wants to see made," Clark said.

The governor has displayed on his office wall one of his more expensive gifts — a guitar played by country music star Tim McGraw, which the artist gave Hogan after dedicating a performance of "Live Like You Were Dying" to him. Hogan has said he played that song repeatedly after his diagnosis.

The disclosure records, filed May 2, cover January 2015 through the end of April 2016. They show that Republican operative Karl Rove sent Hogan a book about President William McKinley late last year.

Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat who often sides with Hogan on controversial decisions on the Board of Public Works, gave the governor four gifts: two books, a bottle of wine and some flowers.

The most expensive item given Hogan was a $500 membership to the Center Club, a private business dining club in Baltimore. Hogan aides said the governor had not used the membership.

In addition to the $200 guitar from McGraw, other costly gifts included tickets to the National Symphony Orchestra, a dozen Washington Redskins hats from team owner Daniel Snyder and a $150 mounted display copy of The Baltimore Sun from the day after Hogan's upset win in the governor's race.

The vast majority of gifts sent to the governor cost less than $50.

A retired couple on the Eastern Shore sent him a single earring. Boy Scouts sent him wooden decor for his desk. Someone else gave the governor eight jars of aioli. Another sent a box of dried okra and a box of dried green beans. Someone else gave him a jug of Italian wedding soup. On two occasions, he received a gallon of maple syrup.

He received 61 books, at least 10 ties, and eight gifts related to making and drinking tea.

He returned just two gifts: a large box of presents from wealthy Baltimore businessman and political donor John Paterakis, and a $300 Under Armor sweatshirt from company founder Kevin Plank. A Hogan spokeswoman said both were Christmas gifts the governor was prohibited from keeping because they were so expensive.

—Erin Cox

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