Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan appointed chief lobbyist Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. as acting chief of staff Monday, following the abrupt resignation of Roy McGrath earlier in the day after taking the reins just days prior.
“Roy has been a deeply valued member of our administration and our state is better for his dedicated service,” Hogan said in a statement. “Keiffer is a widely respected leader who has served our administration with distinction since day one. He has a proven track record for bringing people together and working across the aisle, and I thank him for stepping up to serve at this important time.”
Mitchell served as a Democrat on the Baltimore City Council from 1995 to 2007. He was elected to the House of Delegates from 2011-15 before joining Hogan’s administration in 2015.
Keiffer, who will coordinate staff and managed executive duties, comes from a renowned family in Baltimore. His grandfather, Clarence M. Mitchell, served as NAACP lobbyist and civil rights adviser to President Lyndon Johnson, and his grandmother, Juanita Jackson Mitchell, was the first Black woman to practice law in Maryland.
His father, Keiffer Mitchell Sr., was the first Black doctor to practice at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
Mitchell also receives respect from leaders in both parties.
Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) called Mitchell “a bipartisan problem-solver.”
As for McGrath, his appointment presented controversy after he accepted a six-figure severance package last week.
The Baltimore Sun first reported Friday that McGrath left his previous job at the Maryland Environmental Service, where he received an annual salary of more than $233,000, with a six-figure severance package. The MES board of directors for the independent agency, which handles environmental and public works projects, also granted McGrath $5,250 in tuition reimbursement, a work-issued cellphone and laptop, according to The Sun.
“Having been in a similar role before, I recognized I would be taking on a big job at one of the most difficult times in our history,” McGrath said in a statement released by the governor’s office. “We have had months of grueling, but successful, efforts managing the coronavirus pandemic.”
Ferguson approved of McGrath’s decision to resign, but “there remain outstanding questions about the payments to Mr. McGrath and how we got here, and we must continue to investigate.”