An administrator at the city Ethics Board said he believes Acting Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle inadvertently listed his home address as Baltimore, MD in his ethics form when he assumed his new position on Friday.
“I don’t know how that happened,” said Thaddeus Watulak, referring to the erroneous labeling of Tuggle’s Upper Marlboro residence as a property located in Baltimore.
Tuggle blamed the error on “the pull-down screen” on the form when he was questioned by The Brew on Saturday.
Watulak said he was unaware of any pull-down feature on the form, but said that when he looked at Tuggle’s internal registration to file the report, he found that the acting commissioner had correctly listed his residence as Upper Marlboro.
“I don’t know what would be the reason for telling the Ethics Board that your home is one place in one document and then give a different place in another document,” Watulak said.
One reason could be Article IV, Section 6(l) of the Baltimore City Charter. It requires heads of all city departments to live in Baltimore as their primary residence.
Avery Aisenstark, directive of legislative reference, said it is unclear whether acting police commissioners are governed by the residency requirement.
That’s in part because the department is formally controlled by the State of Maryland, a relic of the 1850s “Know Nothing” era when the General Assembly stepped in to curb rampant lawlessness in the city.
It was not until the 1970s that Baltimore’s mayor was again given the power by the state to select the police commissioner.
Last Friday, Mayor Catherine Pugh chose Tuggle as acting commissioner after she suspended Darryl De Sousa, who was accused the day before of failing to file tax returns by federal prosecutors.
Watulak said Tuggle had correctly recorded his home address as Upper Marlboro when he internally registered to file his ethics form on Friday.
The form was filed 11 days after the April 30 deadline. Tuggle, who had been named a deputy commissioner in March, said he was not aware of the deadline.
According to Watulak, “The internal files do say Upper Marlboro, with the correct street address and zip code,” while the publicly available form stated the correct street and zip code, but named Baltimore as the place of Tuggle’s residence.
“I do know that when I fill out online forms, my computer sometimes autofills information that is sometimes not the correct information,” Watulak said.
Given the Upper Marlboro zip code and street address, autofill would not likely have recorded “Baltimore” unless it was manually changed.
The address would have appeared prominently on the form before it was electronically submitted.