Editors' Pick

‘Good Government Guy’ Resigns

From the outset, County Executive Marc Elrich’s choice of Andrew Kleine as chief administrative officer—the county government’s top appointed official—was controversial. Unlike his predecessors, Kleine lacked experience working in Montgomery County government or managing a large bureaucracy. But Elrich insisted he needed the Silver Spring resident, a self-described “good government guy,” as he moved to restructure county government. Kleine’s management style soon took fire from county councilmembers and leaders of the county’s government employee unions. But it was an ethics investigation that ended his tenure after just 20 months. Some county employees told of feeling pressure to obtain City on the Line, Kleine’s book describing “outcome-based budgeting” techniques honed while he was Baltimore’s budget director. In July 2020, Kleine admitted to violating two provisions of county ethics law relating to the promotion of his book (the county purchased 89 copies) and participation in obtaining contracts for two outside business partners before he severed relations with those firms. He agreed to pay a $5,000 penalty, and Elrich called Kleine a “committed public servant” whose agreement with the county’s ethics commission “resolves the matter.” But the effort to put the episode in the rearview mirror was met with a hail of criticism at a county council hearing. In early August, Kleine resigned, acknowledging “careless errors in judgment”—and leaving Elrich with another bruise from a difficult first term.