Baltimore has a new Mayor coming in January, which is probably a relief to many of the residents of Charm City since the one they had before the current, interim Mayor is currently in prison on corruption charges. At the same time, many of her colleagues at the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) Board of Directors are under investigation to see just how many people had their fingers in the cookie jar. But now that crew may not have to feel all alone in the world. The City’s State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby is currently under investigation by the city’s Inspector General as well.
You may remember Mosby for her involvement in the Freddie Gray debacle back in the day and her attempts (and failures) to prosecute a lot of police officers instead of wasting her time with Baltimore’s massive, raging gang violence problem. It turns out she must have a lot of free time on her hands even with all of that backlogged work because now she’s become embroiled in this situation.
We don’t know precisely what’s going on, but it has something to do with several private-sector travel and consulting businesses that Mosby set up last year without bothering to list them on her ethics reports. The reason we don’t know more is that when the Baltimore Sun filed a Public Information Act request for any emails on her government computer system mentioning the businesses, she basically told them to go whistle for their dinner. She claims those records are none of the public’s business so she’s not turning them over.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby won’t make public emails that mention her private businesses and are stored on her government computer, arguing that they are exempt from disclosure because they are part of an investigation by Baltimore’s inspector general.
The Baltimore Sun filed a Public Information Act request for all emails that mention three private travel businesses Mosby set up last year but did not initially disclose in her state ethics filings. Her office cited three reasons for not releasing the documents: the ongoing investigation; that they weren’t related to state business; and that they “contain information about the finances of an individual.”
Mosby also declined a separate request for her companies’ financial records — such as receipts and tax returns — that are not subject to state public records laws. And she refused repeated requests for an interview.
Mosby’s spokesperson has been rather tight-lipped and a number of the questions that Sun reporters have put to her have gone unanswered. She claims that these companies exist “only in name” and they are intended to help underserved Black residents to travel in comfort. But if that’s the case, why not set them up as nonprofits? Also, why set them up just as she’s starting another term in office rather than waiting until she’s at least close to getting out of politics and law enforcement when she’ll have more time to operate them?
It’s also curious that financial statements apparently exist for the companies as well. That’s rather odd since they allegedly only exist on paper, don’t you think? Of course, we don’t know because she’s not turning those over either. Oh, and the Inspector General is looking into another matter as well, though it’s uninvolved with these businesses. Mosby has been doing a lot of travel these past two years, much of it overseas. And almost all of it was on the dime of private interests. Hey, wait… is that why she wanted to start a travel business? Hrmm…
Questions also surround Mosby’s travels while in office. She has disclosed to the Ethics Commission that she traveled at least 20 times for events over the past two years, including trips abroad to Berlin, Portugal and Kenya. Most of the travel — which totaled about $30,000 — was paid for by private organizations.
If Marilyn Mosby wants to set up some legal private business on the side, that’s up to her, assuming she stays inside the guidelines of the law. But any records on her government computer and official email system are part of the public record, no matter what they are about. (Unless their disclosure could endanger ongoing criminal investigations being handled by her office, of course, but that hardly sounds like the case here.) And while we’re on the subject, if these companies are entirely private and none of the public’s business, why are you handling those affairs on your government email system?
Given the cavalcade of corruption that Baltimore’s citizens have had to put up with from their mayors, the members of City Council and the UMMS, I would think that any public official in Charm City with nothing to hide would be rushing to the microphones to deliver any requested official documents, do interviews and take questions. That’s how you put any possible misunderstandings behind you and maintain the trust of the public. But Mosby’s behavior is looking increasingly like the beleaguered citizens of Charm City may have yet another stinking cycle of news about municipal corruption coming their way.