A Maryland Senate panel on Monday night voted to delay the confirmations of five nominees to Gov. Larry Hogan’s cabinet, after committee members received letters raising questions about two of the nominees.
Sen. Thomas M. Middleton (D-Charles) asked for a one-week delay, which was unanimously approved by the Senate Executive Nominations Committee.
Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery), the chairman of the Senate Executive Nominations Committee, said his office received a letter about Jennie Hunter-Cevera, Hogan’s nominee as secretary of the Higher Education Commission.
Raskin told Hunter-Cevera he was given the letter just an hour before the hearing. It was dated 2009, signed by several members of the faculty at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, and detailed a “no confidence” vote taken against Hunter-Cevera as she served as the institute’s president.
Raskin asked Hunter-Cevera if she wanted to respond to the faculty members who said they were “disillusioned with her leadership.”
Hunter-Cevera told the nominations committee that she and the employees disagreed about the university’s future.
“A vote of no confidence is the only tool that faculty members have when a president makes a decision they don’t like,” Hunter-Cevera said, noting that the difference of opinion was based on her decision to focus on applied research. “I stand on my record of moving the university forward,” she said.
Raskin also mentioned that members of the panel received an e-mail about William M. Pallozzi, the nominee for the superintendent of the Maryland State Police. He did not offer any details.
Middleton said he thought there were enough issues raised and several outstanding questions about how some of the nominees planned to move their departments forward to warrant delaying the vote.
Middleton said he wanted to learn more about David Garcia’s transition plans for the Department of Information Technology and the ways that Hunter-Cevera planned to address cuts to the commission’s budget.
Meanwhile, the panel voted to recommend that R. Michael Gill, Hogan’s nominee as secretary of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, receives final approval by the full Senate. Gill’s confirmation was delayed last week after Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore) said she wanted more time to question the nominee about diversity at the agency.
Conway voted against the recommendation for Gill.
The other nominees, whose votes were delayed and will be considered next week, are:
Carol A. Beatty as secretary of the Department of Disabilities. Beatty has served as the executive director of The Arc of Howard County and managed a $13 million budget and 300 employees.
Mark Jay Belton as secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. Belton retired last year as a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. He served as assistant secretary of DNR from 2003 to 2005.
Last month the full Senate voted to delay the final confirmation of Hogan’s first five nominees. Some Democrats said the move was a signal of their displeasure with a speech by Hogan in which he criticized the way the state was operated under former governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat.