Comptroller Fires Back after Senate President’s Critique

Comptroller Fires Back after Senate President’s Critique

Peter Franchot assails Mike Miller's letter as an "unwarranted attack on the work of my office"

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Comptroller Peter Franchot

Aaron Kraut

Comptroller Peter Franchot Thursday sent a strongly worded letter to Senate President Mike Miller after Miller criticized his performance earlier this week.

“While I always stand ready to engage you in a candid exchange of ideas, I will not allow you to unfairly and inaccurately disparage the work of my award-winning office,” Franchot wrote.

In a letter earlier this week, Miller criticized Franchot over reports that the comptroller’s office misallocated $12 million to $15 million in Montgomery County tax funds to municipalities within the county, including the Town of Chevy Chase and City of Rockville.

Franchot, a Democrat, wrote in his response that Miller is criticizing him because he has attempted to cross party lines on several issues.

“My sense is that your sudden and newfound concerns over the performance of my office are actually based upon my well-documented willingness to reach across partisan lines to work with Governor [Larry] Hogan on fiscal matters of great importance to Maryland taxpayers,” Franchot wrote. “Rather than joining your efforts to launch the 2018 gubernatorial election three years early—as painfully awkward and maladroit as they have been, to date—I am pleased to work with the Governor in a shared effort to hold the line on excessive spending, unsustainable debt and higher taxes on consumers and small business.”

Related: Maryland Senate President Criticizes Comptroller’s Performance in Letter

The dust-up stems from a disagreement over whether school construction funds may be spent on portable air conditioning units for Baltimore City and Baltimore County Public Schools.

Earlier this month, the state committee that oversees school construction funds was poised to approve a policy to allow the funds, which are typically only spent on projects that last for 15 or more years because they’re financed with 15-year bonds, to be spent on the air conditioning units. However, that vote was delayed when the legislative representative on the IAC, Timothy Maloney, requested a deferral to allow the legislature to consider the matter.

After the deferral was granted, Franchot asked Miller to hold a public hearing so that legislators could learn of the unsafe conditions in un-air conditioned schools in Baltimore County and Baltimore City.

This prompted Miller’s highly critical response.

In the latest correspondence, Franchot insisted that the hearing on the schools’ conditions without air conditioning take place.

“Having made your point in such an abrupt and highly irregular manner, I would strongly encourage you to follow through and demonstrate a sincere interest in the working conditions within these state-funded school buildings,” Franchot wrote.

He added, “If, as I suspect, your actions were motivated by political concerns rather than stewardship of the public interest, I’ll also note that this would put our party squarely on the wrong side of a deeply meaningful education issue at a time when the party is laboring to remind Marylanders of our proud tradition of commitment to better schools.”

Franchot also called for an end to this “cycle of public correspondence.”

Comptroller's Response to Senator Miller

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