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Lawyers negotiating when Maryland Gov. Hogan’s ex-chief of staff will appear before lawmakers

Roy McGrath speaks during a news conference in April at the State House in Annapolis. His lawyer is negotiating the timing of his appearance before a General Assembly committee is investigating his six-figure payout as he left the Maryland Environmental Service.
Roy McGrath speaks during a news conference in April at the State House in Annapolis. His lawyer is negotiating the timing of his appearance before a General Assembly committee is investigating his six-figure payout as he left the Maryland Environmental Service. (Pamela Wood)

Maryland lawmakers will not hear Thursday from Gov. Larry Hogan’s former chief of staff, Roy McGrath, as they had hoped.

Lawmakers subpoenaed McGrath to compel his appearance before a joint committee investigating McGrath’s six-figure payout from the Maryland Environmental Service, and set a target date of Oct. 29 for the hearing.

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However, lawyers for the General Assembly and McGrath are still negotiating the timing and logistics of his testimony, Jake Weissmann, chief of staff to Senate President Bill Ferguson, said Wednesday.

The lawyers also are discussing which documents McGrath will provide to the Joint Committee on Fair Practices and State Personnel Oversight. The Oct. 15 subpoena called for McGrath to turn over a raft of documents by last week detailing the payout, McGrath’s communications with the governor and his staff, his communications with the environmental service’s board of directors and more.

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No documents have been provided yet, Weissmann said.

McGrath’s attorney, Bruce Marcus, confirmed that he has had conversations with the General Assembly’s independent counsel, Ward B. Coe. He said they are “working out dates,” but declined to provide details.

“There is a subpoena. There will be a response to the subpoena,” Marcus said.

McGrath resigned from his job as the Republican governor’s chief of staff in August, four days after The Baltimore Sun reported MES paid him more than $238,000 when he left the environmental service as its director to join Hogan’s team. He had been Hogan’s top aide for just 11 weeks.

The Sun later reported that MES reimbursed McGrath more than $55,000 for extensive travel, meals and training courses after he left the independent state agency.

Lawmakers have questioned the propriety of the payments and travel, given that the Maryland Environmental Service gets 95% of its funding from local and state government agencies.

McGrath defended the payments as appropriate in comments to the press and in posts on social media.

The committee also subpoenaed Matthew Sherring, a former environmental service employee who worked under McGrath and often traveled with him. The agency reimbursed Sherring $14,475 after he paid for McGrath to attend an online training course through Harvard University.

Coe also is negotiating with Sherring regarding his appearance before the committee and documents it has requested from him.

Sherring could not be reached for comment.

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