Press Release - Office of the Governor

Governor O’Malley Announces Ralph S. Tyler Maryland Insurance Commissioner

Tyler to Oversee Regulation of Maryland’s $26 Billion Insurance Industry;
Elizabeth F. Harris Named Interim Chief Legal Counsel to Governor

 ANNAPOLIS, MD (September 6, 2007) – Governor Martin O’Malley announced today that  Ralph S. Tyler has been named Maryland Insurance Commissioner and will oversee regulation of Maryland’s $26 billion insurance industry.  Tyler currently serves as Chief Legal Counsel for the O’Malley-Brown Administration.  Governor O’Malley also announced that Elizabeth F. Harris will become interim Chief Legal Counsel for the Governor’s Office. 

“Ralph Tyler has been a steadfast advocate for the working families of our State, and there is no one better to lead the Maryland Insurance Administration,” said Governor O’Malley.  “One of the most important things our Administration will accomplish is making government work again for working families of our state – standing up for middle class families when special interests try to take advantage of them.”

Tyler served as one of the Governor’s closest advisors as Chief Legal Counsel and led the effort to reconstitute Maryland’s Public Service Commission with independent and professional regulators.  Tyler helped to develop the Administration’s first annual budget and legislative agenda to improve the health of Chesapeake Bay and make historic investments in education and school construction.  Tyler also served as the Executive Director of the O’Malley-Brown Transition team, leading the effort with Lieutenant Governor Brown to recruit highly-competent, professional administrators to run Maryland’s state agencies.

As Baltimore’s City Solicitor, Tyler successfully led the lawsuit against the Maryland Public Service Commission and a pending BGE 72 percent utility rate increase this past summer.  The lawsuit is credited with allowing the Maryland General Assembly to pass legislation to keep utility rates affordable and give utility companies more flexibility in purchasing electricity.  

Tyler will replace Peggy Watson, who served as Interim Maryland Insurance Commissioner, while also serving as Governor O’Malley’s Deputy Chief of Staff.  Elizabeth F. Harris will replace Tyler as Interim Chief Legal Counsel for the Administration.

“I am looking forward to serving the people of Maryland in a new capacity,” stated Tyler.  “The Maryland Insurance Administration’s primary purpose is to protect Maryland consumers, and I look forward to working under Governor O’Malley to protect the working families of our State.”

Tyler, 60, is a widely-respected attorney with over 30 years of experience as a lawyer including more than 20 years of high-level experience practicing law in Baltimore City and Maryland. 

He served as Deputy Attorney General from 1991 to 1996, before becoming a partner at the Baltimore office of Hogan & Hartson.  During his 14 years at the Attorney General’s Office, Tyler also served as the chief of litigation during which time he handled the landmark Fifth Amendment case of Baltimore City Department of Social Services v. Bouknight.  Tyler is a longtime Baltimore City resident and served on the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. 

As Deputy Attorney General, Tyler counseled the Attorney General and senior governmental officials on major legal issues, including both civil and criminal matters.  He represented the Office in a wide range of matters before courts, administrative agencies, and the General Assembly. Notably, while Deputy Attorney General, he successfully litigated Ellen Sauerbrey’s lawsuit challenging the outcome of the State’s 1994 gubernatorial election.

While at Hogan & Hartson, Tyler devoted a substantial amount of his time to handling pro bono cases.  He represented Mr. Bernard Webster in obtaining compensation from the state in 2003 after he was released from prison where he had been incarcerated for 20 years for a crime it was proven he did not commit.  Tyler also brought the 1998 case that resulted in the release of over 50 men who were unlawfully re-incarcerated following the State's recalculation of their criminal sentences.

Mr. Tyler received his B.A. from the University of Illinois in 1969, his J.D. from Case Western Reserve in 1972, and an LL.M. from Harvard University in 1977. He is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia Bars, the American, Maryland, and Baltimore City Bar Associations, and he is a permanent member of the Judicial Conference of the Fourth Circuit. In addition, he is a past member of the rules committee of the Court of Appeals of Maryland.

Elizabeth Harris has been Deputy Legal Counsel to the Governor’s Office since his administration took office in January.  Prior to becoming Deputy Legal Counsel, Harris was Assistant Solicitor and Chief Solicitor for Baltimore City.  From 1999 to 2004, Harris was a civil litigator at Hogan & Hartson.  Harris received her Bachelor’s degree in 1995 from University of Richmond, and received her Juris Doctorate in 1998 from University of Maryland School of Law.  She was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1998.

September 6, 2007