Comptroller Peter Franchot, who has taken repeated political hits during this year's General Assembly session, slammed Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller in a radio interview Friday and accused the Democratic “machine” in Annapolis of corruption.
“Corruption is alive and well in Annapolis and it comes from this absolute control without any checks and balances that we’ve got down there,” Franchot, also a Democrat, said on WAMU-FM’s Kojo Nnamdi Show. “Hopefully elections will sort some of that out.”
The assembly voted this week to strip Gov. Larry Hogan and Franchot of their power over school construction decisions as members of the state’s Board of Public Works, a move the Republican governor suggested was motivated by a “vendetta” against his Democratic colleague on the board. The comptroller said Hogan’s theory surprised him.
“I was kind of astonished to hear that, but yeah, that’s what they’re saying,” Franchot said. “I’m not sure what they’re angry about, whether it’s my advocacy for cool classrooms or my advocacy for cool craft beer in Maryland. Something has gotten the Senate president all upset.”
The school construction proposal rocketed through the legislature this week, starting in the House of Delegates, where Franchot served for two decades. It would empower a new commission to review school projects, instead of the board. Lawmakers and local school officials have expressed frustration with how Franchot and Hogan have used their board positions to exert public pressure on them for school air conditioning and other projects.
It was not the first shot the legislature took at curbing Franchot’s authority this session.
For the past year, Franchot has been pushing for his “Reform on Tap” legislation to loosen alcohol regulations to help craft brewers compete against national beer brands. Along the way Franchot has slammed what he calls the influence of a “corporate beer monopoly” in Maryland politics, angering lawmakers who say he never sought their input.
A bipartisan House committee overwhelmingly rejected the beer reform proposal this month. It also unanimously passed a bill, later approved in the Senate, to launch a study of whether the comptroller’s office should retain authority over alcohol regulation.
Franchot insisted to Nnamdi that he has “great relationships with the rank and file senators and delegates” and predicted they would pass his proposal next year.
Instead, he criticized what he called the Democratic “machine” in Annapolis, and Miller specifically.
“They say, ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ The Senate president has absolute power,” Franchot said. “He’s been flexing it for some time.”
Through a spokesman, Miller declined to comment.