Sources say that it was fundraiser Colleen Martin-Lauer who decided to end a nearly decade-long relationship with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
The reason? The mayor’s alleged mishandling of the Baltimore riot.
“The relationship was struggling for awhile. Interpersonal issues with the mayor’s office were difficult. Then the big bomb hit with the Baltimore riot,” said a source with knowledge of the situation.
“The mayor’s office can’t make decisions. That’s what happened for the entire world to see. It was embarrassing,” said a city official who is active in Democratic Party circles.
“The fundraiser fired the mayor,” added the official, who asked not to be identified.
A Free Agent
On Wednesday, Charles G. “Chuck” Tildon III, the mayor’s campaign treasurer, described the breakup as mutual and issued a statement that “the mayor and Martin-Lauer Associates reached an amicable agreement to move forward in a different direction ahead of the 2016 campaign.”
The mayor has not commented on the matter. Martin-Lauer has not returned phone and e-mail messages.
An April 29 fundraising event organized by Martin-Lauer for the mayor at the Hippodrome Theatre was cancelled as a result of the civil unrest sparked by the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
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Martin-Lauer has told associates that a fundraiser needs to be passionate about a client for whom she raises money.
“She believes in Martin O’Malley. She liked and respected Anthony Brown [the former lieutenant governor who lost to Larry Hogan in the governor’s race last November],” a source said. “Rawlings-Blake is perceived as weak. There’s a feeling that we need change in Baltimore.”
When it comes to the mayor’s race, Martin-Lauer is now a free agent. Whether the fundraising powerhouse will join forces with a challenger to the incumbent is not known.
While no challenger has come forward so far (the Democratic primary is next April), former mayor Sheila Dixon is widely expected to enter the race. In the past, Dixon has used Rice Consulting as her fundraiser.
Marilyn Mosby Connection
Martin-Lauer rose to prominence as the fundraiser for Martin O’Malley during his successful runs for Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor. She is now working for O’Malley’s presidential campaign.
Martin-Lauer also was a fundraising consultant to Marilyn J. Mosby in her underdog victory against incumbent Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein. Becoming state’s attorney last January, Mosby has been hailed and lambasted for charging six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray.
Martin-Lauer also represents 7th District Councilman Nick Mosby, the husband of Marilyn Mosby. He has been touted by some as a potential challenger to the mayor. In 2013, his campaign committee paid Martin-Lauer $8,201 for fundraising help, according to on-line campaign records.
Rawlings-Blake’s campaign committee announced that Binetti Political Strategies, a small Baltimore County fundraising and social media group, will take over duties from Martin-Lauer.
Run by a young married couple, Binetti will serve as Rawlings-Blake’s political advisor as she fills out “senior campaign staff positions over the next several months,” according to treasurer Tildon.
Martin-Lauer helped raise $338,563 for the mayor in 2014 and was paid $93,020 in fees, according to state campaign records.