ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan has withdrawn his nomination of Wendi Peters for state secretary of planning after a committee recommended not to confirm her.
Peters, from Mount Airy, had been appointed by Hogan, a Republican, to the Cabinet-level secretary position in July and had previously worked as the state’s deputy secretary.
Peters, the Maryland Department of Planning’s acting secretary, received an unfavorable vote from the state Senate’s Executive Nominations Committee on Monday night.
The committee’s vote — which recommends that Peters not be confirmed — was 11-6.
Because her nomination was withdrawn after the committee’s vote, it will not go to the full Senate for consideration.
In a hearing before the committee earlier this month, Peters was peppered with questions from committee members about morale among employees in the department and new policies that were described as military-like.
After a Frederick News-Post story last week detailing some of the concerns from current and former planning employees, the governor’s office shared two letters that employees wrote to Peters upon their departures from state government that were complimentary to Peters.
Personal information was redacted from all the messages shared with The Frederick News-Post.
“The messages that we received from an array of current, past and transitioning employees about the extremely challenging work environment that has been created gave us serious concern,” Sen. Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore city, the committee chairman, said after Monday’s vote.
Ferguson said the committee generally tries to give the governor wide discretion to build a team of employees to carry out his policy priorities, but it also wants to ensure that nominees meet basic qualifications. He said Peters did not have the background necessary to sit for the exam to become a qualified planner and did not have experience managing a large department.
The governor’s office disputed that conclusion after the vote.
“Governor Hogan is incredibly disappointed and ashamed at the actions of the Executive Nominations Committee, and particularly Senate President Mike Miller. Wendi Peters is eminently qualified for this position,” spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said Monday night. “Unfortunately, she received an extremely unfair hearing full of innuendo and baseless accusations that were an insult to her decades of service to her community and the state, all for the sake of partisan politics.”
Shortly after Chasse’s statement, however, the nomination was withdrawn.
Chasse said Peters still has “the governor’s full support and confidence.”