Baltimore Council President Nick Mosby files legal challenge to ethics decision alleging he broke city law – Baltimore Sun
Baltimore City Council Speaker Nick Mosby is challenging an ethics board order that asked him to stop fundraising for a legal defense fund and hand over a list of donors a month after he publicly said he would comply with the order.
Mosby, representing himself, filed a motion Friday in Baltimore City Circuit Court seeking judicial review of the ethics board’s decision. Last month, the council said Mosby violated the city’s ethics ordinance by indirectly soliciting a legal defense fund that received donations from at least two city contractors.
The fund, which opened for donations in mid-2021, was created for the legal defense of him and his wife, Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby, as they made the under federal criminal investigation last year over their financial dealings. While Nick Mosby has not been charged with anything, Marilyn Mosby was charged this year with perjury and misrepresentation related to the purchase of two homes in Florida.
In an order, the ethics board asked the chair of the board not to accept any payment from the fund and to ask the fund to stop raising funds on its behalf. Nick Mosby was also instructed to request a list of all donors and donations to the fund to be provided to the ethics committee. The deadline to comply with the order was Saturday.
Last month, Nick Mosby denied breaching the code of ethics but said he intended to comply with the ethics committee’s order.
“If you read all 17 pages clearly, I had nothing to do with it, and at this point it’s just time to move on,” he said in May. “I will comply with all the stipulations they ask of me.”
However, the chairman of the board also argued that there was no money for him to return to donors.
“There is no money to pay back,” he said at the time. “There was never any money that was passed on.”
Baltimore’s Ethics Ordinance allows people under investigation to seek judicial review if they are “aggrieved” by an ethics committee decision. Mosby’s two-page filing, released Monday, claims he was “aggrieved” by the outcome.
A spokeswoman for the chairman of the board could not immediately be reached for comment.
Stephan Fogleman, chair of the ethics board, said the board was notified on Monday of the board chair’s legal filing.
“The ethics committee will participate in the proceedings, and we stand by our decision and our administrative order,” he said.
Baltimore’s Ethics Ordinance allows the council to fine violators $1,000 a day if they fail to comply with a council order. Fogleman said the board will discuss whether to suspend his order while Mosby’s appeal is considered.
According to the Ethics Board, Mosby’s legal defense fund received $5,000, its largest individual contribution, in August from the “resident agent” of a contractor who is a minority-owned or woman certified by the city. The company was a contractor under a deal the city’s spending council was considering in 2020, the council reported.
He also received a $100 donation from the executive director of a nonprofit organization that received a multi-thousand-dollar grant from the city in March.
The ruling did not name the donors or further identify their ties to the city, but the two are considered ‘controlled donors’ under the city’s ethics law, which prohibits elected officials from receiving contributions. of these donors, solicited or not.
The council also found that Nick Mosby violated a provision of the law prohibiting him from soliciting donations, directly or indirectly, from vetted donors.
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The list of donors that Mosby was ordered to provide would have been the first public record of donations to the legal defense fund.
Prominent supporters and community leaders have encouraged contributions, posted on Facebook and attended press conferences, but Marilyn Mosby reported no donations to the fund when she last filed an ethics disclosure statement in April. Nick Mosby’s latest ethics disclosure, filed in January, does not list the legal defense fund as a business affiliation or detail the gifts.
According to last month’s ethics committee decision, the fund received $14,352 in donations as of March 15 from 135 individual donors.
Days after the ethics board announced its findings regarding Nick Mosby and the legal defense fund, six of the city council’s 15 members signed a letter echoing the demands of the council order. The letter was signed by Kristerfer Burnett, Zeke Cohen, Ryan Dorsey, Phylicia Porter, Odette Ramos and James Torrence.
“We are writing to express our dismay at the findings of the Ethics Committee in its investigation of the Mosby Trust, of which you are a beneficiary, and your financial disclosure,” the letter reads. “We commend the board’s thorough report and diligent explanation of the law, facts and precedent, clearly highlighting violations of the city’s ethics laws.”
“The Ethics Committee’s Administrative Order provides you with a clear and simple pathway to correct your multiple ethics violations,” the board’s letter reads. “In the interest of the confidence and morale of the public and the City Council, we ask that you immediately and fully comply with the order.”
The signing members of the city council were attending a meeting of the body on Monday evening and could not immediately be reached for comment.