Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday the state would withhold about $55 million from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, alleging the leaders of the system have refused “to cooperate with our attempt to conduct proper financial audits.”
In a letter Monday to WMATA’s board of directors and CEO Paul Wiedefeld, state Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn called the withholding of money for capital projects an “unfortunate, but necessary step the state of Maryland believes it must take in response to an ongoing pattern of fiscal obfuscation and a lack of cooperation from WMATA."
Rahn wrote that state transportation officials have repeatedly tried to audit the Washington system, but been rebuffed. He wrote the state provides hundreds of millions annually to the system without getting to see its books.
“WMATA’s books cannot continue to be a financial black hole, absorbing every dollar it can but providing no information or data that Marylanders expect from public institutions,” he wrote.
The capital funds were scheduled to be delivered Monday.
Rahn’s letter said operating funds the state of Maryland contributes to WMATA won’t be impacted.
A WMATA spokesman said metro officials “will meet with Maryland officials as soon as possible to fully understand and address the issues raised in their letter.”
The move comes after the FBI last month searched the home of the chairman of the transit authority. Jack Evans, who is also a Democratic District of Columbia Council member, acknowledged he failed to disclose a conflict of interest that earned him at least $50,000 a year from a local company. He has resigned from the WMATA board.
Hogan, a Republican, had said Evans was unfit to serve on the board and called for his resignation.