News of the outcome concerning the search for Roy McGrath came Monday night as a shock.
Roy was a colleague over 20 years ago. We reconnected when he began frequent trips to the Eastern Shore as the head of the Maryland Environmental Service (MES). At no time over two decades could I have imagined an outcome like the one resulting in his death yesterday as a fugitive from justice.
For a time, Roy chose to become more engaged in activities on the Eastern Shore. MES serves the Eastern Shore in many ways from the rebuilding of Poplar Island to recycling. There are employees here in our communities and community engagement was something Roy sought.
He stepped away from MES to become Governor Hogan’s chief of staff, leaving that office when he found himself caught in what he always described as an unfair series of attacks surrounding his tenure at MES and his departure.
While there are surely facts to be discovered, I found myself thinking about this tragedy the way the aviation community thinks about aircraft accidents. As a pilot for over five decades, one of the things I learned was that there was never just one cause for a tragic outcome. Furthermore, there is usually a case to be made that if just one or two elements along a tragic path had occurred differently, the tragedy could have been avoided.
I feel that way about Roy and the path he was on. He always presented himself as someone at the top of his game. Over many conversations, it was clear he was proud of the business-like way he was running MES.
If only he had fostered more allies inside.
If only upon his departure he had rejected a separation payment.
If only the board of MES had decided such a payment was unwarranted.
If only Roy, who never wavered in suggesting he was innocent of all charges, could have had his day in court before a judge and jury.
If only he had not fled from the trial before it began.
The path Roy chose and decisions he and others made lead to his death. I just cannot help but believe this could have turned out differently if just one or two factors could have been altered.
My thoughts are with Roy’s wife and family. It is a sad day, a sad loss, and regrettable that justice in this matter will be denied the chance to be done.
Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore.
Letters to Editor
David Reel says
While I often agree with Craig Fuller’s thinking in his Spy commentaries; I reject his “what if” thinking on the downfall of Roy McGrath.
People make bad decisions every day based on a huge sense of self-importance and entitlement. Far too often there are no consequences. In this case there are and should have been consequences.
Fuller writes “If only he had fostered more allies inside”.
Perhaps his lack of allies inside resulted from their observing first hand his failure to do the right things. Very few people other than coworkers and subordinates are more observant of and fully aware of wrong behavior by a superior. Maintaining that Magrath may have been a good manager misses the point. Managerial competence alone is no excuse for not doing the right thing. Peter F. Drucker has said “Managers focus on doing things right. Leaders focus on doing the right thing”. All evidence is Roy McGrath’s moral compass did not allow him to focus on doing the right thing for those with whom he entrusted to do so.
Fuller also writes “If only upon his departure he had rejected a separation payment”.
I have not seen or read any reports where McGrath rejected a separation agreement offer from his Board. Conversely, he apparently proposed a huge (and in my opinion) unreasonable separation payment amount and told his Board it was approved by the governor. Greed, along with the aforementioned sense of self-importance and sense of entitlement can be an evil lure into making very bad decisions. All indications are McGrath was a man in a hurry to become wealthy. Ironically, he was well rewarded while working for MES and stood to be well rewarded as a top staffer in working directly for a governor. No doubt he could parlayed that position and his past experiences into a very lucrative position following his time in the public sector. Sadly, it is often said that people enter public service to do good and end up doing well.
Fuller writes “If only the board of MES had decided such a payment was unwarranted.”
McGrath told them the separation agreement was approved by the Governor. it should not surprise anyone that the MES Board was willing to defer to the governor’s “requested” approval.
Fuller writes “If only Roy, who never wavered in suggesting he was innocent of all charges, could have had his day in court before a judge and jury”.
McGrath had every opportunity to have his day in court with along with legal counsel. He, and he alone, decided to skip town immediately before his trial was set to begin. Hardly a branding moment for innocence. His actions completely undercut reports that he ”never wavered in suggesting he was innocent of all charges”.
Last, but not least, Fuller writes “The path Roy chose and decisions he and others made lead to his death. I just cannot help but believe this could have turned out differently if just one or two factors could have been altered”.
I suggest there was only one factor that could have been altered. That factor, now gone forever, was Roy McGrath showing up for his court appearance and taking full advantage of his constitutional rights to confront his accusers and provide his side of the story. Offering his opinions in manifestos written outside of a court of law without being offered under oath or subject to cross examination means his opinions while evading his court appointment are essentially worthless. The bottom line is Ray McGrath was either unwilling, unable, or both to do what was right. As a result, he lost his family, what some maintain was a good reputation, and ultimately his life.
Constance Gray says
No matter how thin the pancake, there are two sides.
And I agree with David Reel…..he is the one who ran and hid. Unless he had a secret reason for distrusting the justice system……hmmmmm
James wooden says
I can’t help thinking he was killed to keep the truth from coming out and involving all the other guilty parties who were misappropriating COVID funds and other government monies in MD. Slush funds. Where did the excess money come from that Hogan had when he left office.this puts it all on McGraths shoulders. End of story
James Ray Phipps says
It’s easy for people to sit back and say what IF the accused had done something different to avoid what happened. The sad fact is that our political and justice systems are run by evil people that do what they do due to the evil spirit within their own heart’s rather than having a real concern over what their own actions have in other people’s lives. Americans should all be ashamed of how bad this problem within government has become.
Deirdre LaMotte says
Yep agree. Perfect example is the reactionary judge in
Texas who declared a drug used by millions of women
for 23 years was not vetted properly. Bull. It is safer than
Tylenol. The FDA and the Justice Department’s
scientific testimony was ignored because this man has the power to ignore the truth.
MH MOORE says
There truly always is more info and secrets in all of our lives
and in the lives of people we worked for, people we knew be possibly dishonest, and were willing to make a scapegoat out of someone. The most interesting thing about all of this is the God, our Creator knows even the number of hairs on our heads! NOTHING will ever escape the truth. Those who clearly are dishonest, cheats, etc., will be judged in the end. Nothing can be hidden from God!
Kevin Greenfield says
Very heartfelt and nicely written. I do hope you continue to find out what led Roy on the path he was on and share. I believe there is more to this story than meets the eye. Hopefully not swept under the rug.
Rebecca Ellison says
The end of Mr. McGrath’s life was not the real tragedy … the real tragedy is that there is so much corruption in the world around us. Whether we’re the good guys or the bad guys … in the end, it hurts us all.