As Lamar Jackson and the Ravens dazzled the NFL before a stunning playoff defeat, Gov. Larry Hogan invited a full roster of fellow Republican lawmakers, family members, law enforcement officials and executives of his company to join him in the governor’s suite at M&T Bank Stadium.
As part of leases with the Maryland Stadium Authority, the governor and Baltimore mayor are provided with skyboxes — valued at thousands of dollars per game — at the Ravens and Orioles stadiums, and there are no restrictions on who the officials can invite. Spokesman Mike Ricci said Hogan tries to include a “diverse range of state officials" among those he brings to his suite.
The governor and Yumi Hogan, Maryland’s first lady, attended four games this season, according to documents provided by his office, including the playoff game against the Tennessee Titans. He was joined during that Ravens loss by Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee and his wife, along with former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and his two sons.
Ricci, a former communications director for Ryan, said Ryan was invited just because he is someone who Hogan knows likes football.
During games Hogan doesn’t attend, he sets the suite aside for guests of various charities he supports, including Wounded Warriors, American Gold Star Mothers and Cool Kids Campaign, which supports kids who are fighting cancer. He’s also invited the International Association of Fire Fighters to use the skybox.
Other people invited to attend games with Hogan include businessman David S. Cordish, Maryland Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services Robert Green and Nikki Guilford, executive director of the National Governors Association. Hogan is the chairman of the governors’ association.
Hogan also invited several executives of his private real estate business.
Hogan stepped aside from running the company he founded — Annapolis-based Hogan Cos. — when he became governor in 2015. He pledged to have no input with the trustees who manage his assets, though he is allowed receive some information on his company’s finances and real estate dealings. His younger brother, Timothy Hogan, now runs it. House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, a Democrat, said at the beginning of this year’s General Assembly session that she expects delegates will ask “tough questions” about the governor’s business dealings.
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Timothy Hogan attended two Ravens games this season. At a Dec. 1 match against San Francisco, he was joined by three other Hogan Cos. executives: Chief Operating Officer Victor White, Executive Vice President Jake Ermer and Senior Vice President Kevin Setzer.
Ricci said there was “nothing about business” discussed at any Ravens game.
Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young often invited Baltimore City Council members, mayor’s office staffers, members of the General Assembly’s Baltimore delegation and county executives from around the state to Ravens games. The recently named vice president of external affairs for the University of Maryland Medical System, Chuck Tildon, was also a frequent recipient of passes to the mayor’s suite.
Spokesman Lester Davis said the mayor’s use of the box is “tied to getting face time with regional partners.”
“It’s about taking time to go by and visit with folks and do business and make sure he’s promoting the city and talking Baltimore up,” he said.
There have been attempts in the past to get politicians to develop transparent policies to govern the boxes and post online lists of who is invited. Currently, the governor and mayor make the lists available upon request.