O’Malley facing ethics probe over … furniture purchases?
posted at 5:21 pm on January 15, 2016 by Ed Morrissey
You’d better sit down before reading this … or else Martin O’Malley might buy your chair before you get the opportunity. Last night, the Baltimore Sun reported that prosecutors in Maryland are probing O’Malley’s tax-free purchases of furniture from the governor’s mansion at the end of his term that saved him 90% of retail cost. O’Malley’s administration had helpfully reclassified the furniture as “junk” prior to his departure:
The Anne Arundel County state’s attorney is investigating former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s discounted, tax-free purchase last year of taxpayer-owned furniture from the governor’s mansion in Annapolis.
The probe began shortly after a Baltimore Sun investigation found in September that the Democratic presidential candidate paid $9,638 for 54 mansion furnishings that originally cost taxpayers $62,000. The discounted sale was authorized by outgoing O’Malley administration officials after each item had been classified as “junk.”
Most of the furnishings now adorn the O’Malleys’ $549,000 home in Baltimore’s Homeland neighborhood.
In fact, the sale never should have taken place at all, the Sun’s investigative team determined:
The Department of General Services approved the sale to O’Malley last January despite a policy that forbids private sales of state property to government officials, The Sun found. The agency also did not follow its rule requiring it to solicit bids for such items and did not charge mandated sales tax on the transaction.
Shortly after The Sun investigation, Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the agency to conduct an internal review of policies that allowed the purchase. The Republican governor accused O’Malley of “misleading” Marylanders about the removal of the furnishings, saying the former governor never told him about plans to take items with him when he moved out of the mansion last year on Jan. 15.
O’Malley’s campaign accused prosecutors of political motivations, although those would be murky at best. O’Malley’s not running in Maryland for anything, and his presidential bid may as well be non-existent. This is the most interesting thing to happen to the O’Malley campaign since he blew his appearance at Netroots Nation by saying, “All lives matter.”
The man himself says he just followed the rules as explained to him:
O’Malley said last year he wrote a check for what the state’s Department of General Services determined was the furniture’s depreciated value.
“I know there was no negotiating of the price,” O’Malley said in September. “We were just told it was some sort of standard depreciation formula they had used for the prior family.”
O’Malley will appear on stage Sunday evening in the Democratic presidential debate, coincidentally with another candidate who took off with mansion furnishings at the end of a term in office. Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill took practically everything that wasn’t nailed down when they exited the White House, although the outcry forced them to start returning some of it shortly afterward:
After they were criticized for taking $190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other gifts with them when they left, the Clintons announced last week that they would pay for $86,000 worth of gifts, or nearly half the amount.
Their latest decision to send back $28,000 in gifts brings to $114,000 the value of items the Clintons have either decided to pay for or return.
Will Bernie Sanders offer himself as the Democrat with a difference? Failing that, perhaps the moderators can start a discussion as to how Democrats redecorate on the cheap.