ANNAPOLIS – Sen. Ed DeGrange, D-Anne Arundel, Thursday slammed State Comptroller Peter Franchot’s release of a list of state employees and their salaries, calling it a “gross violation of trust between employees and employers.”
DeGrange has filed a letter with the State Ethics Commission accusing Franchot of releasing the information for his own political gain.
Franchot released the list after being questioned about the salaries of three of his deputies during a recent Senate committee hearing. A Franchot spokesman said nothing improper took place.
Under the Maryland Public Information Act, state employee salaries are required to be released to the public upon request, but DeGrange said the comptroller received no such request and instead just offered the information to the media.
“There is a process in place. If you want the information, you follow the process,” DeGrange said. “This information was not requested. It was offered.”
DeGrange was referring to Franchot’s appearance before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee last week, where he was questioned about three of his deputies who each make around $150,000.
Budget analysts said this seemed a relatively high salary for deputies in state agencies. Franchot replied that he had a list showing those salaries were not out of line.
But Joe Shapiro, director of communications for Franchot’s office, said the actual release of the list took place only in response to specific requests for it.
“We had two requests for the information, one from [The Examiner] and one from The Gazette,” he said. “The Gazette requests it every year whether or not the Examiner did it because he mentioned it, I can’t say.”
Franchot, a Democrat, has angered several members of his own party by taking the opposing viewpoint on major legislative issues, including tax hikes and the ongoing debate over slots.
In a written statement, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, called the list’s release “very troubling. I think he should apologize to the people of Maryland, and particularly our state employees, whose trust he has violated.”
DeGrange echoed the sentiment in his letter to the State Ethics Commission, saying that “by using and publicly releasing the names and salaries of 4,678 state employees to justify the salaries of individuals working in [his] office, the Comptroller not only has committed an ethical breach, but has violated the public trust.”
Shapiro shrugged off these claims.
“I would refer Senator DeGrange to the Maryland Public Information Act,” he said. “Anyone who requests information from the comptroller’s office will get it if it’s following the law. We have never released salary lists just to release them, and we never will.”
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