AG Frosh asks for $1 million to exercise new powers

Print More

House Republican Leader Nic Kipke, far left, argues against granting new powers to the attorney general.

By Len Lazarick

Len@MarylandReporter.com

Hours after the House of Delegates gave final approval to broad new powers for Attorney General Brian Frosh to sue the federal government, he was in front of a House committee asking for $1 million a year to hire five lawyers for his new mission.

The delegates approved the new powers for the Democratic AG to go after the Trump administration without the permission of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in a straight party line vote 89-50, with all Republicans opposed.

Republicans on the House Health and Government Operations Committee wondered why the fiscal analysis of the just passed Maryland Defense Act, SJ5, and its House companion, HJ3, stated that “The Office of the Attorney General can use existing resources to handle any litigation initiated as a result of the resolution,” yet here he was asking for a million dollars in mandated spending in HB913.

The mandated spending would not kick in until the fiscal 2019 budget begins July 1, 2018. For the next 16 months, Frosh would be using existing attorneys in his main office, but they would be pulled from other duties, he said.

The new spending mandate was sponsored by Del. Sandy Rosenberg, D-Baltimore, who also was the lead sponsor of the House joint resolution. The bill contains the same language as the resolutions authorizing the attorney general to pursue lawsuits.

The bill and the resolution explicitly mention “ensuring the availability of affordable health care; safeguarding public safety and security; protecting civil liberties; and preserving and enhancing the economic security of workers and retirees” along with protection of consumer rights, pensions, the environment and “the general health and well-being of [state] residents.”

A key difference between what the House passed Wednesday morning and the bill in committee is the joint resolutions go into effect immediately without the signature of the governor and HB913 is regular legislation that needs the governor’s OK.

“We’re opposed to mandated spending,” said Hogan communication director Doug Mayer, who refused to speculate about whether the governor would veto the bill. Hogan has consistently pushed legislation to reduce spending mandates, not increase them, since they control over 80% of the discretionary general fund budget.

Asked how they arrived at a figure of $1 million for five new assistant attorneys general and support staff, Rosenberg and Frosh said the model was a federalism division in the office of the Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a Republican.

Pruitt has been nominated as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency he has sued 14 times.

Frosh said he might wind up suing Pruitt if he tries to dismantle the Chesapeake Bay clean-up, an EPA program that was the subject of a Pruitt lawsuit.

  • DC

    So if the state can sue the federal government for any action or inaction they deem to be harmful to their residents, shouldn’t the counties and municipalities be able to sue the state for any action or inaction the state takes that they deem to be harmful? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, correct? And if that isn’t allowed, isn’t that being a bit hypocritical? Slippery slope here.

    • Dale McNamee

      And the taxpaying citizens of Maryland should be able to sue their city, county, and state officials as well since we are ignored otherwise…

    • James Pugh

      I agree with you we should be able to sue the state for miss representation of its people, and wasting tax payers money. Then we should be able to sue for all misfractions that we note that cost taxpayers money and all the overruns on the budget. Then we should be able to sue the democratic party for pay raises higher than the state or county employees

  • charlie hayward

    1. Lets hope for the House version (requiring the governor’s signature) to see if Hogan vetoes it.

    2. I’d be interested to know what projects the AG will refrain from doing in FY 2018, in favor of diverting staff to the Trump crusade. Bringing these staff re-assignments to the light of day would allow the public to weigh the opportunity cost of the anti-Trump work, and the governor to ID budget fat in the AG office, and potentially excise it. Wishful thinking; it will never happen.

    3. I’ve always argued the legislature maintains the power to create new spending by manipulating budgetary estimates to “save” money elsewhere, even though the state Constitution precludes the legislature from increasing the cost of the governor’s budget. The fact Frosh is seeking FY ’19 money from the legislature (not the governor) demonstrates this.

  • Mary P.

    So what happens if AG Frosh decides that he needs even more lawyers (than the 5) to sue the Trump administration over the next 4 years? Is this going to become an annual ritual of the AG coming to Annapolis every year?

    It seems that the AG want’s to have his cake and eat it too. OK, now he’s got the power to sue the feds without permission of the governor but he wants Maryland taxpayers to pay for it too. No AG ever has enough money for all the issues that they want to pursue so they have to prioritize what’s the most important. Why is this any different? Let Frosh do it on his existing budget and then have to justify to the voters next year why suing the Trump Administration over illegal aliens being deported was more important pursuing scam artists under Maryland’s consumer protection laws, for example. Not every Marylander thinks Trump is the twin of the Devil.

  • Dale McNamee

    No, No, and HELL NO !

  • Ass-banging Mohammed

    I am so disgusted to live in this state. I hope that fat tub of crap fails !

  • dwb1

    So what happens when Trump and the GOP decide as payback to pull employment, contracts, and funding from Maryland? oh yeah. we lose revenue and the fiscal gap widens. Excellent plan, bite the hand that feeds us.

  • Skip727

    As a state employee, we are always asked(told) to do MORE with LESS. I suggest Mr. Frosh adapt the same attitude in his office, seeing how the budget is ALWAYS balanced on the backs of the employees, as Mr. Frosh well knows, being a tax and spend democrat.

  • higgy01

    This is one of the more frivolous, ludicrous and inane ways the democrats found to waste our tax dollars. Maybe if these nitwits cleaned up Maryland, no sanctuary cities, counties and definitely not the state would be a good start. Illegal alien riffraff cost Maryland tax payers roughly $2 billion per year. Giving the AG more power and taking it away from the governor is the democrats way of supposedly exercising their power. In fact it is just a bunch of bubble headed brats having a tantrum like the two year olds they are because we finally have a caring president that doesn’t put up with a lot of BS.

  • ianJhatch

    Tell Frosh to try tapping Soros for the money. Marylanders should not have to finance his bigoted desire