A Maryland Senate committee on Monday grilled one of Gov. Larry Hogan’s nominees to the state Board of Education about his brushes with the law, his unpaid state taxes and his stance on school choice.
“You didn’t pay your taxes to the state of Maryland; how can you take a position with the state of Maryland?” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) asked Brandon Cooper, a Hogan appointee from Prince George’s County.
The Senate Executive Nominations Committee delayed action on Cooper’s nomination on Monday night.
Cooper introduced himself to the panel as a native of Ohio, a public-school product and a Howard University graduate who “is not perfect.”
Sen. James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) asked Cooper about charges filed against him for driving while intoxicated, driving with a suspended registration and driving with a suspended license.
Cooper said he made mistakes and has learned from them. But Brochin said his main concern was failure-to-appear charges filed against the nominee.
Cooper said he moved a lot, did not receive notice of a court date for driving a motor vehicle on a suspended license, and was unaware of the failure-to-appear warrant. The issue was resolved, he said.
Asked about his position on school vouchers, Cooper said he supports “parents being empowered” to find the best educational option for their children. But, he said, given that he is a product of public schools, he is an advocate for public schools.
A spokeswoman for Hogan (R) did not immediately return a call for comment about Cooper’s background or the vetting process. This year, Hogan proposed legislation that would require people who were nominated to fill vacant seats in the General Assembly to undergo background checks.
The governor called for the background checks after Gary Brown Jr., an aide to Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D), who was selected to fill a vacant seat, was indicted on charges that he violated campaign finance laws.