Tom Wolf’s Disastrous First Year: The Marcus Brown Saga

HARRISBURG — In anticipation of Tom Wolf’s first anniversary as Governor, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania is taking a look back on some of the major issues that occurred during his first year in office.

Today, we begin with the eight month saga of Marcus Brown, the failed nominee for State Police Commissioner who received a golden parachute from Governor Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security.

“Governor Tom Wolf used Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security as a political golden parachute for his friend Marcus Brown. After the Pennsylvania State Troopers’ Association and the Pennsylvania Senate determined Brown was not qualified to lead our State Police, Wolf disregarded them by appointing Brown as Director of Homeland Security. The ongoing saga of Marcus Brown exposed Tom Wolf’s penchant for putting politics above all else during the past year.” — PA GOP Communications Director Megan Sweeney

The Saga of Marcus Brown

In January 2015, Governor Tom Wolf announced the nomination of Marcus Brown as the new Pennsylvania State Police Chief. “The Pennsylvania State Police are the commonwealth’s top law enforcement agency, and Col. Brown has the experience and vision necessary to serve in the role of commissioner.” (Nick Field, “PA-Gov: Wolf Names Police Commissioner,” PoliticsPA, 1/15/2015)

  • Wolf Highlighted Brown as “highly-capable and well-respected” “The individuals I announced today are highly-capable and well-respected officials with years of law enforcement, emergency management, and military service experience.” (Nick Field, “PA-Gov: Wolf Names Police Commissioner,” PoliticsPA, 1/15/2015)

But Marcus Brown was already mired in controversy surrounding his Maryland pension. “Brown left his job as Baltimore’s deputy police commissioner in 2007 to serve as chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police. At the time, the city’s Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm told the city pension board that Brown had not quit the force but was laid off. According to media reports, that distinction allowed Brown to collect a $55,000 annual pension.” (Wallace McKelvey, “Marcus Brown: 7 things you need to know about Pa.’s acting state police commissioner,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, 2/17/2015)

Marcus Brown simultaneously claimed homestead tax breaks in Maryland and Pennsylvania. “[Then Governor Martin O’Malley] insists Maryland State Police Superintendent Marcus Brown’s home is Maryland, but he and his family are receiving tax breaks for claiming primary residences in two different states, [WBAL-TV] I-Team lead investigative reporter Jayne Miller said…” (“I-Team finds Md. top cop’s family lives in Pa.,” WBAL-TV, 6/7/2012)

Brown was faced scrutiny “from within his own ranks.” “[Brown], who until recently headed the Maryland State Police, is not facing scrutiny just from legislators. He’s also fielding it from within his own ranks.” (Angela Couloumbis, “Gov. Tom Wolf likely facing fight over state police nominee,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/16/2015)

  • “A Facebook page has been created where retired troopers and others have excoriated Brown over his decision to don the gray uniform troopers wear — even though, despite a long career in policing, he did not attend the State Police Academy.” (Angela Couloumbis, “Gov. Tom Wolf likely facing fight over state police nominee,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/16/2015)

In March, Brown took down signs that appeared in his neighborhood criticizing his decision to wear a Pennsylvania State Police uniform. “A critic put up signs in his neighborhood Wednesday morning, saying Brown doesn’t deserve to wear the uniform. Brown took action and took down the signs, all caught on video.” (Dan Carrigan, “State police commissioner under fire over signs,” WHTM, 3/18/2015)

Shortly thereafter, the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association called on Governor Tom Wolf to withdraw Brown’s nomination, citing Brown’s “extremely poor judgement.” “While members of the Pennsylvania State Police may not agree with the decision to put up signs, Mr. Brown’s actions to remove them showed extremely poor judgement…The Board was unanimous in its belief that they do not have confidence in Mr. Brown to lead the Pennsylvania State Police.” (Letter from Pennsylvania State Troopers Association to Governor Tom Wolf, 3/23/2015)

In early June, Governor Tom Wolf attempted to recall Brown’s nomination, claiming he would “remain as acting commissioner.” “This morning, I submitted to the Senate a recall of Col. Marcus Brown’s nomination as commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. I continue to have full faith in Col. Brown’s ability to lead the State Police, and he will remain as acting commissioner.” (“Governor Wolf Submits Recall of Marcus Brown’s Nomination for State Police Commissioner,” Office of the Governor, 6/8/2015)


Later that day, the Pennsylvania State Senate rejects Marcus Brown in “its sharpest rebuke yet to Pennsylvania’s first-term governor.” “In its sharpest rebuke yet to Pennsylvania’s first-term governor, the Republican-led Senate on Monday rejected Gov. Wolf’s controversial choice to lead the state police and signaled it would be unlikely to reconsider.” (Angela Couloumbis and Chris Palmer, “Senate rejects Wolf’s State Police nominee,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/8/2015)

  • “Wolf has stood by his nominee.” “Senate Republican leaders this spring asked Wolf to withdraw Brown’s nomination, saying they lacked confidence in his ability to lead the agency. The state trooper’s union echoed the sentiment soon after. But Wolf has stood by his nominee, and did so again Monday.” (Angela Couloumbis and Chris Palmer, “Senate rejects Wolf’s State Police nominee,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/8/2015)

In August, Tom Wolf rewards Marcus Brown with a top position in PA’s Office of Homeland Security. “Gov. Tom Wolf has found another spot in his administration for Marcus Brown, whose nomination to lead the Pennsylvania State Police was rejected. Wolf said Thursday he’s appointing Brown as the state’s homeland security director.” (“Wolf taps Marcus Brown as homeland security chief,” Associated Press, 8/6/2015)