As Maryland and Virginia continue to battle to be the new home of the FBI’s headquarters, a document is being circulated that indicates the bureau itself prefers to move to Virginia.

The FBI document, which was circulated this week and obtained by The Banner, argues that a location nearer the FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia, would be more convenient than a location in Maryland because some employees need to go back and forth between headquarters and the training academy.

The U.S. General Services Administration is weighing three options for a new FBI headquarters: Greenbelt, Landover and Springfield, Virginia.

The new headquarters would replace the FBI’s aging J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., and the competition between Maryland and Virginia has been fierce. Officials representing both states made their final pitches to the GSA earlier this year, and it’s believed a decision will be made soon.

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Over the course of a two-month period last summer, 500 headquarters employees made a total of 1,700 trips between the Hoover building and the Quantico facility, the document states. It argues that “time and expediency are integral” to the FBI’s mission.

Maryland officials quickly criticized both the circulation of the document and the arguments made in it. Though the document is dated “June 2023,” the same data was presented in March when both states took turns appearing before the GSA to make their cases.

In a statement the FBI said they continue to work with the GSA on a “fair and transparent site selection process” and expressed confidence in their federal partner’s “expertise to select a location that will meet the needs of our workforce, meet the mission of the FBI, and will be a good deal to the taxpayer.”

It’s not clear who began circulating the document or why. The FBI document was first reported by WUSA-TV in Washington on Thursday.

“This document from the FBI once again provides the same numbers they have given to the Maryland delegation numerous times without answering our questions,” U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Democrat who represents parts of Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland, said in a statement.

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Hoyer said the Maryland team has continued to ask the FBI to clarify the data about “a small group of headquarters employees” who go back and forth between Quantico and the Hoover building.

“This response remains inadequate as it simply repackages the same numbers without directly answering our delegation’s questions about them,” Hoyer’s statement said.

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, likewise, said the FBI “continues to rehash” data about a small number of employees, “apparently believing this snapshot overcomes the strength of Maryland’s case for the new, consolidated FBI headquarters.”

“Once again, the FBI misses the point of what equity means for the communities that have been victim to systemic bias,” Cardin, a Democrat, said in a statement. “This is a decision that transcends the FBI’s myopic interests, which is why the General Services Administration has been tasked with the site selection.”

The senior senator’s Democratic colleague, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, said in a statement the document “tells us nothing new — even according to this ‘imperfect data’ only 6% of the FBI workforce travels to Quantico with any regularity.”

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Van Hollen highlighted that all three sites meet the mission requirements and that “Maryland remains the best choice for the FBI Headquarters — especially considering the much lower cost to the taxpayer and the Biden Administration’s expressed commitment to equity and opportunity.”

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, speaking to reporters in Baltimore, noted that the GSA has not made a final decision.

“The thing that I would ask and remind them though is this: If you look on the basis of the principles that they laid out for how this decision was going to be made — transportation assets, cost, speed of delivery, equity — Maryland wins on every single one of those indicators, every single one,” said Moore, a Democrat.

Moore, members of Maryland’s congressional delegation and Prince George’s County officials have said that a location in the county would fulfill the goal of improving equity in the federal government. Prince George’s is a majority-Black county but has fewer federal agencies than its neighbor, Montgomery County.

Opening an FBI headquarters in Prince George’s would boost the county’s economy and reputation, they argue.

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The Maryland team has said that the Prince George’s sites fulfill the top criteria for the new headquarters. Last fall, they bristled when the GSA’s scoring system ranked proximity to Quantico as a more important factor than others, including equity, cost and access to transportation options.

“I just don’t see how this is even a close contest. The FBI building should be in the state of Maryland,” Moore said.

“I think that Virginia not only is going to have to fight on the merits, but I think we should get a clear answer from their chief executive: Does he even believe in the funding of the FBI? Does he believe in the mission of the FBI?”

Gov. Wes Moore

Earlier this year, state lawmakers recommended setting aside $100 million in the state budget to help relocate the FBI to Prince George’s, and the state’s Congressional delegation put aside $375 million in a similar gesture in 2022.

Moore took aim at Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, suggesting the FBI headquarters does not belong in the Republican governor’s state. Maryland, Moore said, supports the FBI’s mission.

“I think that Virginia not only is going to have to fight on the merits, but I think we should get a clear answer from their chief executive: Does he even believe in the funding of the FBI? Does he believe in the mission of the FBI?” Moore asked.

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This spring, Congressional Republicans considered calling for the federal government to stop spending money on the FBI headquarters relocation — an effort that Youngkin did not denounce. Youngkin also has criticized the FBI, including for its searches of former President Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter responded in a statement: “Virginia is well-positioned to support the FBI headquarters with a diverse workforce, extensive transportation network and close proximity to public and private sector partners. Virginia’s competitive advantage is clear and partisan attacks won’t change that.”

pamela.wood@thebaltimorebanner.com

brenda.wintrode@thebaltimorebanner.com

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