Deep corruption: City council members “ask” their president to return money donations that violated ethics law

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BALTIMORE, MD — Lawmakers in Baltimore City are requesting the City Council President return money that was obtained from a fund that was created to cover his legal expenses.

According to a local CBS report, the Baltimore City Board of Ethics said last Thursday that Council President Nick Mosby violated the city’s ethics law when he accepted the donations.

Mosby’s wife, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, also benefited from the donations too, according to the report:

“All four members of the board found the donations violated a section of the ethics law prohibiting ‘a public servant from soliciting—or facilitating the solicitation of—a gift from a controlled donor,’ according to a newly published report.

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“The group of local lawmakers—consisting of Zeke Cohen, Kris Burnett, James Torrence, Ryan Dorsey, Phylicia Porter, and Odette Ramos—sent their refund request to Mosby in a letter, which was obtained by Baltimore Banner staff on Saturday.”

The letter stated in part:

“The Ethic Board’s Administrative Order provides a clear and straightforward path for you to correct your multiple Ethics violations.

“For the sake of the trust and morale of both the public and the City Council, we ask that you immediately and fully comply with the Order.”

The Baltimore Sun explained who are “controlled donors”:

“The ethics board issued a 17-page ruling Thursday detailing two donations — one of $5,000 and another of $100 — to the fund from city contractors they consider controlled donors.

“As council president, Mosby oversees not just the legislative branch of government, but also the Board of Estimates, Baltimore’s spending board.

“According to the ethics board, controlled donors to the council president include anyone who seeks to do business with City Council, the council president’s office, the Board of Estimates or any city governmental or quasi-governmental entity with which the council president is affiliated.

“Also included are subcontractors doing business with or seeking to do business with the above groups, and those who engage in activities regulated or controlled by those groups.”

In a statement, Mosby denied any breach of the ethics code and said he is “completely perplexed” by the board’s findings. He wrote:

“The Board is fully aware that I have never asked, requested, or solicited any person to donate to the ‘legal defense fund.’ The Board further knows that I never assisted in the creation of the legal defense fund or the entity that controlled the funds that were donated.

“In fact, I proactively disclaimed any interest in that trust fund, in advance of their findings, and I instructed the trust to return the limited amount of funds received on my behalf.”

CBS also noted that some council members remained silent about Mosby’s ethics violation:

“Baltimore Banner reporter Emily Sullivan noted that the eight council members who did not issue a public comment on the ethics debacle were allies of Mosby ‘appointed by him to lead legislative committees or introduce bills on his behalf.’

“Those council members consist of John Bullock, Eric Costello, Danielle McCray,  Mark Conway, Sharon Green Middleton, Robert Stokes, Antonio Glover, and Isaac ‘Yitzy’ Schleifer.

“The Mosby Trust, a group soliciting legal defense funds for what it calls an ‘unjust, politically-motivated federal criminal tax investigation,’ is made up of people known to the council president, though he declined to provide their names.”

The board said Mosby must disclose his “beneficiary interest” in the trust and amend his campaign financial forms within 30 days, and he is ordered to no longer accept payments from the trust, CBS reported:

“Mosby must also ask the group to stop collecting donations on his behalf within 30 days and return any funds to donors.”

In a statement, Mayor Brandon Scott said the report was “another unwanted distraction” for a city striving to move forward:

“These violations reflect poorly on our city as a whole and are counterproductive. I vow to continue to work to rebuild the public trust between our residents and the City government.”

In March 2021, federal prosecutors announced an investigation of the couple’s finances, asking for records including tax returns from 2014 through 2020, canceled checks, receipts and credit card and loan statements CBS reported.

In addition, Marilyn Mosby is set to stand trial in September, where she faces accusations that she lied about enduring financial hardships related to COVID-19 to withdraw money without penalty from her retirement account and that she falsified information on loan applications for two properties in Florida, according to CBS’ report.

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