Newly established powers of Maryland’s attorney general led to a federal lawsuit against President Donald Trump — and the praise or scorn of county lawmakers who were politically split on the virtue of his actions.

Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) was empowered by Democrats in the General Assembly this year to file lawsuits against the federal government.

The legislation was passed on a party-line vote in the General Assembly and among the county’s delegation.

Because the measure expanding Frosh’s powers was fashioned as a joint resolution, it could not have been vetoed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. A separate bill expanded funding for Frosh’s office to support the additional litigation; it was passed into law without the governor’s signature.

Delegate Kathy Afzali, R-District 4, was opposed to both measures.

She said she viewed the measures expanding Frosh’s powers as “a way to try to hit Gov. Hogan.”

Before the resolution, Maryland’s attorney general could file suit against the government — after seeking permission from the executive branch or the legislative branch. The measure passed by the General Assembly gave the broad go-ahead needed for Frosh to unilaterally decide which cases to pursue.

“This whole session was about them attacking Donald Trump. They weren’t focused on Maryland policy,” Afzali said of Democrats in the General Assembly. “They were focused on Washington and how much they hate the fact that they lost an election.”

Delegate Carol Krimm, D-District 3A, supported the legislation in Annapolis and said the lawsuit filed Monday could get to the bottom of questions that have surrounded Trump since he was first elected to office.

“I think this is a way to get the facts,” she said.

Afzali said Democrats’ questions about Trump’s business dealings are the result of their own lack of experience in owning and operating businesses. “We look at private-sector work as a positive,” she said of fellow Republican party members.

Delegate David E. Vogt III, R-District 4, opposed Frosh’s action on Monday.

“My opposition remains the same as it was when I voted against it: That’s not the attorney general of Maryland’s job,” he said.

But Delegate Karen Lewis Young, D-District 3A, said Frosh was stepping up where others were not.

“I’m proud of our attorney general for doing what individuals at the federal level have not done. Our attorney general is protecting the American Constitution and ethics laws and potential conflicts of interest,” said Lewis Young, who will have Frosh as a guest at a campaign fundraiser Tuesday night.

While Frosh used the power for the first time in March to join a lawsuit on Trump’s proposed travel ban, Monday’s action — made in conjunction with the D.C. attorney general — made a big splash and was featured in the network nighttime newscasts.

“It’s actually maddening. This is exactly the kind of garbage we didn’t want,” said Sen. Michael Hough, R-District 4. “All he’s doing is playing up to the left-wing base. ... He’s joining zany lawsuit after zany lawsuit.”

Hough said such actions have other repercussions in the state. For example, the Office of the Attorney General drafts opinions and advisory letters for lawmakers considering legislation.

“Because of the partisan nature of Brian Frosh, anything his office gives us is completely suspect, in my opinion,” Hough said.

Delegate William Folden, R-District 3B, said one source of his opposition to the expanded powers is that Frosh didn’t have them when he was elected. Now he’s exercising them without having been elected to do so, Folden said.

“We’ve created this loophole because we have this tyranny of the majority,” Folden said.

Lewis Young said she wouldn’t be surprised if Frosh also files action relating to health care if a repeal of the Affordable Care Act is successful.

Krimm said she has no regrets about the legislation and said it will serve to expand protections for her constituents.

“We didn’t put that piece of legislation in place to see him sit on his hands,” she said.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(33) comments

DisabledFrederickVeteran

Most republicans don’t care if the potus has been money laundering for Russian organized crime groups for nearly 30 years or is a tool of Putin as long as he promotes a Dixiecrat agenda.

KellyAlzan

none of these law makers have law degrees, nor have a legal mind. Who cares what they think?

stjohn42

"Afzali said Democrats’ questions about Trump’s business dealings are the result of their own lack of experience in owning and operating businesses. “We look at private-sector work as a positive,” she said of fellow Republican party members."

.......and a long line of corrupt local politicians starting with Blaine Young is the result. I am not sure why anyone who was an actual politician would even say this on the record. It reminds me of Romneys famous "47%" gaff. Sad.

DickD

Most of these comments are true, depends upon your politics. The only one I disagree with is Hough, he is totally partisan and lacks any objectivity, And after what he did in the primacy, to another Republican, he should frankly keep quiet.

stjohn42

If the President of the US is the corrupt tool of foreign and corporate powers, then it affects ALL of us. If congress does not do their job of checking and balancing the executive branch, the others will have to step in. Remember: If these back door payments cause one business to not come to Maryland, we are all affected, whether we know it or not. The state government is obligated to at least find out if this is happening.

spmark1107

Can someone tell me how spending tax money on this completely unwinnable case helps the state of Maryland? Or suppose it is winnable? Good luck finding a successful president in the future who, in this Global economy, does not have stake in some kind of business that offers good or services that can be purchased by a foreign entity. I'm trying to imagine an AG that would pull this stunt against a sitting president that they like, and who belongs to their own political party. What should be considered is that winning this case would open many opportunities to harm both parties. After all, someday their may be a presidential candidate for the democratic party who is not willing to give away his/her business that sells bobble heads of Trump on ebay which could be purchased by folks in foreign governments.

stjohn42

Trump's ethical issues are a problem for ALL Americans, so to the extent that Maryland is part of America, the benefit is obvious. Frosh is not doing this because he dislikes Trump; he is doing it because he believes Trump has violated the Constitution, that he has good reason to do so, and because Congress is failing its duty to exercise checks on the executive branch. As for "winning", I am sure getting the tax returns that Trump has promised many times to release would constitute a victory. Finally, Trump's business is not selling souvenirs on ebay, it is an international conglomerate that he has made only token effort to distinguish from his office, which the Constitution requires him to do.

spmark1107

You actually make a very good point. A point that I have heard on NPR and read several times. "Winning would be getting his tax returns", which indicates this is political and should be left to the special interest groups to fight. These cases presumably cost a LOT of money, and many tax payers, ones who are not acting like a crazy ex-girlfriend since the election, do not support it. Why did we not sue FDR? Or other presidents who owned businesses? Jimmy Carter continued to own his family peanut farm. This suit interprets the Emoluments clause in such a way that you could say a foreign government official buying his peanuts violates the clause. Why would we choose the wealthiest president in history, who is working for free, as the one most likely to be in it for the money? Because we hate him. I'm not a fan either, but 1 year and millions $ from now we will not be able to recover money that could have been used for schools or metro after completely failed attempt to win this case, unless of course winning means getting the tax returns. And by the way, if you owned many many businesses in this political climate, would you be willing to turn over your tax returns so thousands of pages of data could be scrutinized, politicized, and turn into more crazy law suits?

Dwasserba

Jimmy Carter sold his peanut farm.

spmark1107

Actually he turned it over to a trust. Then was investigated by republicans because of money disappearing from it. Perhaps Billy used the $ to make Billy Beer?

jerseygrl42

Frosh has hit a new low...not an easy feat for him...LOSER!

besmartten

Ahh trump want to be....... Frosh is Winner of last election, 56% to the republican 41%.

b1sellers

I disagree. I thank him for trying to look out for our constitution rather than go lock step with a treasonous president

wran

I am embarrassed and outraged byFrosh's lawsuit. He should be attending to Maryland issues and not participating in the hateful "resist Trump" movement.

I would like to ask Mr. Frosh why he is taking so long to issue his clarification on the Ocean City topless issue. He promised a prompt clarification a week ago. Has he been too busy with his anti Trump law suit to address the OC issue? I can imagine the consternation within the AGs office about having to issue a clarification as requested by OC. This is an issue he does not want to address and will try to weasel word his way out of making a clarification. No matter what his decision he is going to upset people on opposing sides of this issue.

When and if he issues his clarification it should also include a position on whether teen age boys, or others can photograph topless ladies at a public beach with their phone cameras. You know this is going to hapen.

shiftless88

Wran, if you would read the lawsuit and the stories around it, you would realize that this IS about Maryland issues. Business that pours into Trump properties therefore does not go elsewhere; unfair business advantage

phydeaux994

Read the news wran, the topless issue was resolved two days ago. An ordinance was passed banning nudity in O.C. which can be enforced by the beach patrol and the police.

DickD

If you don't want your photo taken, topless, don't go topless.

shiftless88

Every time wran says "topless" replace the word with "hijab-less". American Taliban. I wonder if he/she is aware that there are successful societies all around the world where women go topless at the beach or elsewhere, topless women are featured on the covers of magazines at the grocery checkout even, and it doesn't result in the downfall of their nation?

Fawned

But what is their opinion on Trump's business ties while in office? I think it is partisan to just blindly defend Trump.

DickD

Not only is it partisan to defend Trump, it also raises the issue of the ethics to defend someone that so blatantly violates laws, rules and regulations. Trump reminds me of Nero, the Roman emperor.

public-redux

His ties are too long. That's my opinion. Overcompensating, probably.

stjohn42

Not sure what "Government Unions" might be involved, But if they don't do it, who will? The Republicans in Congress are as spineless as the Republican reps interviewed above. Trump could shoot someone on the street during a press conference and they would fuss that it was "not their job to interfere". Sad.

LJF0929

I do think the number of lawsuits against the president is outrageous, but there are so many things he says/does that are totally against what we expect of a president. The deeper rooted problem is that he has said he will "sever" ties to his businesses and he hasn't at all. Greed runs our country. He will say what people want to hear but do what is in his best interest - like a great salesman. A lot of suckers out there.....

jsklinelga

Delegate Folden hit the nail on the head. Our Attorney General did not have these powers when he was elected. This may have serious ramifications. is it possible a suit could be brought against the State of Maryland and it's Attorney General? Just one more example of the powerful Government Unions entrenched in the State. Certainly we could not trust Frosh to rule against Government Union workers holding elected office and voting with clear conflicts of interest.

sofanna

I agree! It's ludicrous that an elected official can expand his own authority. I also don't believe the attorney general's office should be given our tax dollars to support this folly. It's nothing but political. Many politicians in this Country are the problem, not the President. This could lead us down a road that was never intended for our Country. All politicians should either do the job that they were elected to do, or resign! It's quite an embarrassment for our Country. I truly pray that God will intervene.

hayduke2

I think you have the real embarrassment to our country wrongly identified. When all those dollars goes to the Trump owned properties and buildings, who loses out ? What about all those business people who don't have the lure of the presidency behind them to attract customers? All politicians should.... or resign you say. So should the entire Republican House and Senate who refused to hear a constitutionally appointed nominee for the Supreme Court by the president of the United States be made to resign? Or does your rant only work one way?

b1sellers

Hay, you know the answer to your question. I'll bet it was rhetorical wasn't it [wink]

hayduke2

b1 - yup!

stjohn42

He did not expand his authority. As I understand it the legislature granted him that authority. Which is entirely their right. And Trump is doing EVERYTHING EXCEPT what he was elected to do, if you compare his campaign platform to his actions.

besmartten

Uhhh,, He did not "expand his own authority". It was expanded by a majority of the state legislature. "many politicians are the problem". Sure again the elected representatives of the people.

DickD

So, you think Trump's actions deserve impeachment?

DickD

God helps those that help themselves, we will give them help, fire Trump and even the spineless Republicans might step up to the plate.

DickD

Just pay your union dues, Jim, or go to a non union job.

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