-- Documents obtained by ABC News reveal some of the stately furniture used by 2016 Democratic hopeful Martin O’Malley when he lived in Maryland’s governor’s mansion and later purchased by his family at steeply discounted rates when they moved out of the residence earlier this year.
There is a photograph of a brown rustic Maitland Smith armoire originally purchased for $3,695 by the state and used in the lower family room of the residence in Annapolis, Maryland, where O’Malley served as governor from 2007 to 2015.
Another inventory document shows a dark-brown leather sofa, purchased just days before then governor-elect O’Malley’s first inauguration in 2007 for $2,247. It was used in the Government House’s sitting room, before O’Malley’s wife, Catherine O’Malley, bought it almost exactly eight years later for $449.40. The Maitland Smith armoire, she scored for $739.
As first reported by the Baltimore Sun, the O’Malley family bought 54 items in total from the state upon their departure from the Government House after the furniture was deemed “unserviceable” by the Maryland Department of General Services, marked for disposal and offered to the family for about $9,600 after taxpayers had reportedly paid $62,000 for the furniture.
The office of O’Malley’s successor, Gov. Larry Hogan, took to Facebook after the Sun’s story was published writing that “the private quarters of the mansion looked like Cindy Lou Who's house after the Grinch swept through.”
“If they call that expensive, beautiful, barely used furniture 'junk,' I'd hate to hear what they call the 20 year old stuff I brought with me from my house to replace it all,” Hogan added.
The Maryland Department of General Services (DGS), which outfits government property and sold the O’Malleys the furniture, has a rule in its own inventory control manual prohibiting “the preferential sale or gratuitous disposition of property to a State official or employee."
Last week, after receiving the Baltimore Sun’s inquiries, an attorney for DGS wrote to the Maryland State Ethics Commission seeking a determination as to whether items should first be put up for competitive bids or auction before being sold to an outgoing public elected official like O’Malley and his predecessor, former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich. DGS confirmed to ABC News that in O’Malley’s case, that did not happen.
“The letter sent Friday shows clearly that this is an intergovernmental procedural policy issue,” O’Malley’s former chief of staff, John Griffin, wrote in a statement provided by the presidential campaign.
“DGS always manages gubernatorial transition in and out of the residence including determining that non-historic residential property could be purchased and determining the purchase price. The O’Malleys deferred to DGS authority and followed their protocol and standard operating procedure that was consistent with at least one prior administration.”