At what point do you see enough smoke to conclude that there is probably not only a fire burning someplace but possibly a fire tornado? That’s a question that prosecutors and the citizens of Baltimore have to be asking about now when it comes to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and (potentially) her husband, City Council President Nick Mosby. We recently learned that Mosby had been indicted for multiple counts of perjury and fraud. Her excuses as to why she shouldn’t be found guilty of these charges have been less than impressive thus far. But now another clue has dropped onto the growing pile of evidence that she and her husbands may not be exactly the selfless public servants that they profess to be. Federal investigators have been examining both Marilyn and Nick Mosby’s campaign finance statements and found that significant sums of their campaign donations were spent on legal expenses. While that is allowable – and actually normal – under certain specific conditions, these don’t seem to have anything to do with their respective political campaigns. If true, that would be a violation of campaign finance laws. (Baltimore Sun)
It’s been well known for the better part of a year that Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Council President Nick Mosby were the subject of a federal investigation into their finances. Late Wednesday it was revealed the power couple spent thousands of dollars of campaign funds on high-powered law firms.
It matters because legal bills can be considered acceptable campaign expenses, but only through a narrow window of allowable circumstances under state law…
While the state attorney general’s opinion states legal fees must be related to a campaign-related criminal prosecution, charges don’t have to be filed for a candidate to expense legal fees to their campaign, said Bruce L. Marcus, a Greenbelt defense attorney who in 2012 chaired a panel established by the legislature to recommend changes to Maryland’s campaign finance laws.
We should first point out that there is no prohibition against using campaign funds for legal services. In fact, when setting up a political campaign, two of the first people you generally put on the payroll are an accountant experienced in handling campaign contributions legally and without causing scandals, and an attorney who is experienced with all of the myriad campaign finance laws that candidates are required to navigate. Other aspects of operating a campaign will also often require sound legal advice.
But the laws in play here are also very specific in stating that those expenses must be applied toward legal matters that are directly related to the campaign. This investigation revealed that Marilyn Mosby paid $37,500 of her campaign funds to Reed Smith LLP in Washington, D.C. That is not her campaign attorney. It’s her criminal defense attorney who is representing her in the fraud and perjury allegations. She paid another $10,200 to a second criminal defense firm.
Similarly, Nick Mosby paid $12,500 of campaign funds to Reed Smith and $40,000 to a second Washington-based criminal defense firm. Given that Scott Bolden, Marilyn Mosby’s defense attorney, has made multiple public statements in her defense against various charges but never seemed to be associated with her political campaigns, this situation at least appears to suggest that both of the Mosbys were dipping into their campaign coffers to pay their personal legal debts. That’s the sort of thing that can land a politician behind bars if they’re not careful.
Another headline that popped up recently prompted me to ponder some possibilities about this power couple. Perhaps Marilyn Mosby and her City Council President husband should have been spending more time putting away criminals and keeping the residents of their city safe, and less time brokering dodgy real estate deals in Florida and tapping into extra cash through COVID relief programs they don’t qualify for. We learned this weekend that homicide is now listed as the number one cause of “unexpected deaths” among children in Baltimore. Seems like the sort of thing that Charm City’s top prosecutor and the leader of the City Council should be concerned about, doesn’t it?