January 13, 2020

Pay attention to this guy, because the Maryland governor's name comes up most frequently as a potential presidential candidate in a post-Trump GOP. "Look, even the Democrats love him!" The question is, why? Hogan is a Trumpian crook, albeit on a smaller scale. Via a Washington Monthly investigation:

Both are real-estate executives who have refused to relinquish their private businesses while in office. Just as Trump maintained his ownership of the Trump Organization when he became president, Hogan maintained ownership of HOGAN, a multipurpose real-estate brokerage firm, when he became governor. Both have left close family members in charge of their businesses—Trump with his children; Hogan with his brother, Timothy—and created arrangements that allow them to be apprised of the company’s dealings. In other words, they have set up situations in which they can use their powerful government positions to increase their private profits.

As governor, one of Hogan’s signature policies has been to expand state spending on roads, highways, and bridges at the expense of mass transit. His most controversial policy to date was to cancel the Red Line—a planned $2.9 billion metro rail line through Baltimore, for which the state had already acquired land. In the process, Hogan gave up $900 million in federal aid from the Obama administration. As The Baltimore Sun put it, “Hogan freed up hundred [sic] of millions of dollars he plans to use to undertake a significant shift in the state’s transportation priorities from public transit to road projects.”

Hogan has advanced a number of major state transportation projects that are near properties his company owns, a development that can boost the value of those properties. Before canceling the Red Line, he approved construction of an interchange down the road from a parcel of land his company controlled. Later, he approved millions of dollars in road and sidewalk improvements near property he had bought approximately two years earlier and was turning into a housing development.

Maryland, of course, has a law against doing this. "An official may not partake in a decision if the official or a qualifying relative—defined as a parent, spouse, child, or sibling—has an economic interest in the matter and the official or employee knows of the interest."

Who's gonna stop him?

Multiple legislators said they were not informed of the governor’s nearby real-estate interests before voting on his transportation budget. “I certainly had none of this information when working on the budget committees or in discussions,” said Bill Ferguson, a Democratic Maryland state senator, when we spoke in September. (In October, Ferguson was selected to become the Maryland Senate’s next president.) “Had I known this information, I think there would have been much more targeted and purposeful questions about the necessity of projects that appear to have a financial benefit to the governor.” (Hogan listed his holdings in real-estate LLCs in his submission to the Maryland State Ethics Commission, filed 17 days after the legislature approved his first budget, but he did not identify specific properties, let alone the dates of acquisition.)

One of the reasons Democrats like him is that he believes in climate change. But he stopped a long-awaited rail project in favor of rebuilding those roads near his projects -- and that's a pretty low bar, anyway. What kind of idiot doesn't believe in climate change? Via the New Republic:

The key to Hogan’s appeal is as nakedly racial as Donald Trump’s, even if they sound nothing alike in other respects: Hogan’s project is to prop up the suburban and rural at the explicit expense of both the urban core and the next generation. He was fairly open about this project at the beginning of his time in office. As Washington Monthly puts it: “His most controversial policy to date was to cancel the Red Line—a planned $2.9 billion metro rail line through Baltimore, for which the state had already acquired land.”

Hogan took the “savings” from failing to invest in sustainable transit for Baltimore and spent them on road projects throughout the rest of the state, and bragged about doing so. “His office issued a map of most of the state showing where the money was going, with Baltimore left off,” The Washington Post reported. It was widely considered, at the time, to be part of a “war on Baltimore,” a deliberate policy of disinvestment in that largely black and poor city in favor of investment in the white suburbs and rural areas. And it has been a wild political success.

Even if you don't live in Maryland, go read both pieces. This is someone aiming for the national stage, and there's a reason he's a Republican: Self-interest.

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