Embattled MOIT director resigns
Chris Tonjes says he is innocent of allegations involving contract employees disclosed two months ago by Mayor Rawlings-Blake
Above: Chris Tonjes speaks to reporters in 2012 about the mayor’s VoIP phone plan.
Two months ago, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced an investigation into possible wrongdoing at the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology (MOIT) that would be completed in weeks.
With no charges yet filed or announcement made about the investigation, MOIT chief Chris Tonjes today announced his resignation from the $150,000-a-year post, saying that he has done nothing wrong but is “unwilling to become a distraction.”
“The Inspector General’s investigation, once promised to last weeks, has dragged on for months,” Tonjes wrote in a letter to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, first disclosed by the website Technical.ly Baltimore.
Tonjes said that Inspector General Robert H. Pearre Jr. has not yet interviewed him, “although I have offered on many occasions to meet.”
“I cannot compel the Inspector General to meet with me, nor can I force him to conclude that the allegations of misconduct are completely false, which they are,” Tonjes wrote.
Unable to do My Job
Tonjes, who is also the city’s Chief Information Officer, complained about the impact the yet-unsubstantiated accusations has made on his reputation.
“Having been arbitrarily placed on administrative leave amid a cloud of scrutiny, I have been unable to do my job and serve the citizens of Baltimore,” Tonjes wrote in the letter, a copy of which was released to The Brew by Tonjes’ attorney Steven H. Levin.
In announcing the investigation, Rawlings-Blake said the city had received allegations that contract employees at MOIT had been paid for work they did not perform.
Tonjes’ predecessor also resigned under a cloud.
Rico Singleton was forced out of MOIT in 2012 after an audit by New York State, where he was previously employed, alleged that he arranged a job for his live-in girlfriend and accepted air and hotel reimbursement from a company seeking a contract with New York State.
Tonjes was selected in July 2012 after a national search. He previously served as CIO for the District of Columbia Library. Representing the mayor’s office, he has been involved in a public spat with City Comptroller Joan Pratt over the deployment of VoIP phone service for city government.
Statement from the Mayor
Mayor Rawlings-Blake released a statement noting that Tonjes performed “very capably” since the investigation was announced.
The mayor’s statement reads, in full:
“I accept Mr. Tonjes’ resignation. Jerome Mullen will continue to serve as acting Director of the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology (MOIT). Jerome has been a very capable partner these last several weeks while the Inspector General conducts his work to determine if there was any fraud or abuse within MOIT. Under Jerome’s leadership, I am confident MOIT can move forward in supporting several priority initiatives for my Administration, including the modernization of our Police Department to help make Baltimore City safer, as well as improving overall efficiency across city government to continue saving taxpayers millions of dollars.”