Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.’s closest adviser has resigned from his post and will be replaced for now by the administration’s communications director, the county announced Wednesday.
Patrick H. Murray, a veteran in state Democratic circles who was named Olszewski’s chief of staff when Olszewski first took office in 2019, is leaving the administration less than a month after the county announced the departure of another top aide, Deputy County Administrative Officer Drew Vetter.
Both officials were enmeshed in investigations by the Office of the Inspector General and efforts to restrict its authority to investigate fraud, waste and abuse.
Dori Henry, who’s been the county’s communications director and deputy chief of staff since 2018, will serve as interim chief of staff starting Sept. 15, according to a news release. The county intends to fill her position as communications director, spokeswoman Erica Palmisano said.
Murray, whose role overseeing office operations and personnel decisions and spearheading Olszewski’s various initiatives across public agencies kept him largely out of the spotlight, became mired in an effort by the administration and some council members last year to rein in the powers of the county’s Office of the Inspector General, which Olszewski established in 2019 as the Office of Ethics and Accountability before it was renamed.
A bill drafted by Olszewski’s office around July last year — which was withheld from council consideration after the Baltimore Brew first reported it, sparking public backlash — sought to establish an inspector general oversight board staffed by county officials and Olszewski appointees. The proposed bill set restrictions on Inspector General Kelly Madigan’s authority that the Association of Inspectors General said would “effectively gag and shackle” the office’s independence.
Emails obtained under the Public Information Act by WYPR show that in the months leading up to the bill’s disclosure last year, Murray instructed Madigan that she must request records in writing from Olszewski’s office, explaining why she needs them and “how the request is necessary and related to the work of the Office of Inspector General.”
In an August 2021 email, Madigan, a former state prosecutor, told Murray that she would no longer operate under his direction because she isn’t legally required to do so, WYPR reported.
In a statement, Olszewski said Murray has been “an invaluable partner” and was integral in helping the county navigate “unanticipated and unprecedented fiscal and public health crises.”
“I am grateful for his service to the residents of Baltimore County,” Olszewski said.
The county wouldn’t say if Murray had accepted a job elsewhere.
Murray, who earned a salary of almost $185,660, according to a salary list provided by the county, was tapped for the position while working as the chief of staff to the late Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. between late 2017 through 2018.
He previously was a campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, served as executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party and was a senior adviser to former House Speaker Michael Busch. He’s currently an adjunct lecturer in the political science department at McDaniel College.