ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s treasurer received words of support Wednesday from her two colleagues on the Board of Public Works.
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, and Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat, spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday in support Treasurer Nancy Kopp, who serves with them on the three-member panel.
“I think you’ve done a hell of a job and I think it’s to the credit of the state, and you’ve made the state a better place and, personally, I appreciate it and I hope you’re here as long as you want to be here,” Franchot said to Kopp at the end of the Board of Public Works meeting.
Kopp, who was first appointed to the position in 2002, has seen her role as treasurer during the years Hogan has been governor come under scrutiny via a 12-page report requested by a senior House Democrat. The report is being used to suggest that Kopp, who is appointed by the legislature, doesn’t represent lawmakers at board meetings.
“This is a collegial body and, yes, most of the time, we vote together as the article mentioned,” Franchot said, referring to a story in The Daily Record. “And that’s a good thing because if we weren’t, that would signal some very disturbing, deep-seated problems with the way in which the state buys goods and services. This is not the General Assembly, where Democrats and Republicans are expected to vote along party lines or risk punishment from leadership.”
Hogan also spoke in defense of Kopp, criticizing efforts to single out the treasurer.
“It was as if people were criticizing her for not being partisan enough,” said Hogan. “In this day and age, I think most people, regardless of party affiliation, are fed up with politics and dysfunction and they appreciate people working together, regardless of party.”
Hogan called the board “an example that should be followed not only by the folks (legislators) downstairs but it’s an example we’ve set for the nation on how to work together on behalf of the taxpayers and get things down for the taxpayers.”
As the governor and comptroller have teamed up to use the board as a bully pulpit and public biweekly political support group for what vexes them, Democratic General Assembly leaders have expressed concerns that Kopp is not counter-balancing her two colleagues with a legislative perspective.
“I’d like to see more independence, more so from the treasurer, because she votes, the percentage she votes with the other party,” said Del. Talmadge Branch, a Baltimore Democrat who has served on three legislative committees that make recommendations on the appointment of the treasurer. “It doesn’t seem to me that she votes in the interest of her party at all times.”
Branch made his comments late last month after being asked about his request to the Board of Public Works for a report on split votes over a nearly three-year period in which Franchot and Kopp broke with Hogan.
The 12-page report, covering as many as 6,000 votes over three years, found Kopp broke with Hogan just six times. Franchot, by comparison, split with Hogan 28 times.
Branch said he asked for the report “to make sure her voting was in line with what I like. In some ways they were, and in some things they weren’t.”
Kopp, who is appointed by the legislature, comes up for re-appointment when the new legislative term begins next January. Her votes could become an issue, Branch said.
Kopp, speaking Wednesday, said she believes “a significant part of my job” is ensuring legislative policy is carried out.
“I do try when I am sitting here to represent the entire legislature and the people of the state while, I believe, speaking up for the principles that we all and they all share, sometimes disagreeing on the process taken or which body ought to be conducting the people’s business on any particular issue,” she said.