State Senate Republicans have rejected the governor’s pick to head the Pennsylvania State Police, despite a last-minute move to pull his name from consideration.
In an unusual move Monday, the Senate voted 22-26 against the confirmation of Acting Commissioner Marcus Brown, a former Baltimore city cop and past head of the Maryland State Police.
Republicans cited an array of reasons for voting against Brown, such as his acceptance of a Baltimore pension and his use of a homestead tax credit on two residences at once.
The issue that has sparked the most controversy, however, has been Brown’s daily garb. He wears the State Police uniform, despite not having come up through the agency ranks. It was that move that lost him the support of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, which also took issue with his action to remove two signs critical of him that were erected near his home.
“This is about making sure that we have solid ground with the Pennsylvania State Police and their leadership and their cooperation to work together,” said Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson. “It’s unprecedented, it’s totally unprecedented, for the State Police Association to come out and oppose this nominee.”
Democrats protested that Brown remains eminently qualified to head the State Police based on his resume. Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, has theorized that the opposition to Brown is related to his desire to bring more racial and gender diversity to the State Police ranks.
Gov. Tom Wolf recalled Brown’s name Monday morning to allow more time for talks, but GOP senators said additional discussions wouldn’t change the outcome of the confirmation vote.
The result puts the governor’s nominee in a kind of advise-and-consent limbo. Wolf’s spokesman said Brown will stay on as acting commissioner. But GOP Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, has suggested that could invite a legal challenge.
“Let’s go find a new nominee for the State Police,” said Corman. He was asked whether the negative vote indicates a deteriorating relationship between Senate Republicans and the governor’s office.
“Eh, I think we’re fine,” Corman said as he turned to head back into the Senate chamber. “We’ll see what happens.”