By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]
As Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker approaches the end of his second term, he shared his extreme disappointment in the decision to not move the FBI headquarters to Prince George’s County- one of Baker’s major projects during his time as County Executive.
“I think this was a loss for the state,” Baker said according to The Prince George’s Sentinel.
Greenbelt and Landover were two of the three locations in the running for the new FBI headquarters; yet the Trump administration announced in July 2017 that the move would now be canceled, stating it would be cheaper to renovate and build over the current dilapidated property at the Hoover building.
However, The Prince George’s Sentinel reported that leaked emails and meetings with the General Services Administration (GSA) proved that the president’s decision to scrap the relocation of the FBI rooted from personal concerns.
The Hoover building is a block from the District’s Trump Hotel, causing Democratic leaders to accuse the president’s involvement in the FBI’s rebuilding as a personal investment. Initially the plan was to sell the Hoover building as a means of offsetting rebuilding and relocation costs, yet selling it to a competitor could hurt the Trump Hotel.
“I did not have a high opinion of [President Donald Trump] anyway, but I would have never thought that he would base any personal decision based on his businesses and essentially, denied a safe work environment for the men and women that put their lives on the line,” Baker said according to The Sentinel. “I thought that would never happen, so it went from not having a high opinion of him to going extremely low.”
“The president and his administration have employed faulty and misleading reasoning to keep the FBI in its current location and have displayed an alarming lack of transparency and accountability with Congress,” Congressman Anthony Brown (D-Maryland) said. “These new documents solidify my original suspicion that President Trump is politicizing this critical national security project to disrupt the men and women of the FBI – an agency he has long attacked – and protect his bottom line.”
According to emails released on Nov. 2 from the House Oversight Committee, the decision to keep the FBI in Washington, D.C. would not be beneficial, as it would house less employees and cost more than the $3.6 billion proposed to build in Prince George’s County.
Baker considered the relocation of the FBI headquarters his “No. 2” project, right behind the successful construction of University of Maryland Medical Center, due to open in 2021. The County Executive devoted a great deal into the bid for getting the FBI in Prince George’s County- investing more than $60 million and over 20 trips to the GSA offices in D.C.
“Not only have resources and money been wasted, but more importantly, we are no closer to providing the American people the increased security and safety they desperately need from a consolidated and high security campus,” Baker said, according to a February 2018 AFRO report.
Beyond a great boasting tool for the county, Prince George’s would have seen great economic development, according to Assistant Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic Development David Iannucci.
“It would have been a truly historic, transformative, economical and development win for Prince George’s County,” Iannucci said, according to The Sentinel.
Now Baker encourages his successor, Angela Alsobrooks, to continue pursuing the project, which at the moment is at a standstill.
“My advice to her would be to push hard and weigh on our federal partners to make sure they go forward with their plans to force the president’s hand,” Baker said according to The Sentinel. “They have to have a new consolidated FBI building, and Prince George’s County should be in position to be competitive for that.”