MARYLAND (DC News Now) — Maryland’s top elected leaders said Friday they are pushing forward with the FBI’s headquarters coming to Maryland.
They chided the director of the nation’s top law enforcement agency for trying to stop the move.
“We believe in the FBI. We are proud to support the FBI. We are thrilled that the FBI is coming to the state of Maryland,” Gov. Wes Moore said at a morning news conference in Greenbelt. “This is going to bring over 7,500 jobs to the state of Maryland, will generate over $4 billion of economic activity and this is going to solidify our state as the tech and cyber capital of the United States.”
Virginia officials who were upset that the Springfield site on property owned by the General Services Administration (GSA) was not chosen have called for an investigation and for the process to be restarted.
Democratic officials, from Moore to U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer and Sen. Ben Cardin, gathered together to show a unified front that the decision to bring the FBI to Greenbelt was legitimate.
“The GSA conducted a thorough, transparent, and objective site selection process,” Hoyer said. “An objective reading of all the facts led to the selection of the FBI headquarters at Greenbelt, Maryland, because it’s best for the country, best for the FBI and best for the people.”
Whether Congress would delay or call for hearings on allegations that the process was flawed and biased toward Maryland over a site in Virginia was still up in the air.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told his staff in a letter Thursday that he had “concerns about fairness and transparency” in how Prince George’s County was chosen as the future home of the bureau.
In the letter, Wray said a political appointee with the GSA with connections to the Greenbelt site “diverged from the panel’s conclusions and selected” the land owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
“And I want to be clear with you all, in the same way we have been clear with GSA, that our concerns are not with the decision itself but with the process,” Wray wrote. “We identified about a potential conflict of interest involving the site selection authority and whether changes that individual made in the final stage of the process adhered to the site selection criteria.”
But Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen said his state won fair and square and that while others may gripe about the process, Maryland always had the best site that is build-ready and would cost the taxpayers millions less.
“The decision that was made is a final decision,” Hollen said. “It is absolutely wrong of Director Chris Wray to impugn and question the character and integrity and the independence of the site selection administrator.”
Virginia and Maryland competed hard for the $3 billion project for nearly 14 years with starts and stops as the FBI headquarters continued to crumble from age.
Maryland officials said that they are moving on and will be trying to secure more than a billion federal dollars already set aside but not yet approved for use by Congress.
“We’re going to give them (FBI) a facility that will be the best law enforcement facility in the world here in Greenbelt, Maryland,” he said.