While Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has been happily exercising his newfound power to sue the federal government unchecked, Republican state lawmakers have had enough.
In a letter (via WBAL) addressed to Frosh and sent to media members yesterday, a group of 36 Republican delegates and state senators have asked the state’s stop elected lawyer to account for how much money his office is pushing the state to spend on these cases, and to clarify how many more suits he plans to file against the president.
In more pointed terms, lawmakers told the attorney general they to want “to make sure the precious tax dollars of Marylanders who toil daily to provide for their families are not squandered on lawsuits whose actual goals are meant to grandstand and score political points.”
The group is also worried a “misuse of the power granted to [Frosh’s] office” may “threaten the public interest and welfare” of Marylanders more than any actions undertaken by the Trump administration.
The latter quoted phrase was included in the language of the so-called Maryland Defense Act, a resolution adopted this spring that gave Frosh the power to sue the federal government without first seeking permission from the governor, which had long been a requirement in Maryland. That language stipulates in part what’s required for the attorney general to file such a lawsuit against the president.
The Democratic-controlled General Assembly quickly adopted the resolution during the 2017 legislative session, but not without a walkout from many Republican legislators. Because it was a resolution, rather than a bill, Gov. Larry Hogan didn’t have the power to veto it. After the fact, Hogan called it “the lowest point I’ve ever seen in the legislature.”
Frosh has since been using his power at will. In June, he sued President Trump for violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. He did the same thing in March for Trump’s travel ban blocking visitors to the United States from certain Muslim-majority countries.
The letter’s GOP signatories say they question the legal merits of his cases, calling the Emoluments Clause filing “dubious at best.” They ask why, instead, is Frosh not focusing his attention on matters like the opioid crisis. (Frosh has notably also joined a broad investigation into drug firms’ marketing tactics for pain medications.)
In response to the letter, the attorney general’s office told WBAL and the Carroll County Times that the GOP delegates and senators are “grandstanding” themselves by sending their letter out to members of the media, rather than to Frosh himself.
“The office of Attorney General has done precisely what The Maryland Defense Act calls for,” Frosh’s spokeswoman Christine Tobar said in a statement. She added, “the Maryland Defense Act was approved overwhelmingly by the General Assembly. The signers of the letter were among the minority who voted against it.”
Frosh has also sought to intervene in a lawsuit threatening subsidies for insurance companies under Obamacare, and has sued Trump’s Department of Education for revoking a new rule designed to hold for-profit colleges more accountable, and the EPA for continuing to allow certain levels of pesticides to be used on fruits and veggies and for rolling back vehicle emission standards.
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