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Accountabilityby Fern Shen6:02 pmFeb 22, 20210

Cumming says she won’t revise her Mosby report despite demands by the state’s attorney to do so

“To me as the investigator, there was never a question” that city travel policy required reporting by elected officials as well as employees, Inspector General says in WYPR interview

Above: Isabel Mercedes Cumming has led the Baltimore Office of the Inspector General since 2018. (YouTube)

In a radio interview today, Baltimore Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming defended her investigation into the travel and private business of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, refusing a demand by Mosby’s lawyers that she partially “revise” her report.

“No,” Cumming told WYPR’s Tom Hall. “I’m standing behind my report.”

Cumming forcefully rejected the idea that the city’s Administrative Manual was “ambiguous” on the question of whether elected officials, like Mosby, are required to report travel to the Board of Estimates, even when it was being paid for by an outside organization.

“To me as an investigator, there was never a question of whether the Administrative Manual policy was applicable,” Cumming said.

Reviewing “every single page” of board minutes for 2018 and 2019, Cumming said she found 70 instances when the policy was referenced in regard to travel by elected officials and employees “with no difference between the groups.”

Seeking exoneration, Marilyn Mosby instead gets a highly critical report from Baltimore’s IG (2/9/21)

Interviews with past members of the Board of Estimates, the clerk who oversaw the travel policy, agency heads and others, she said, led to one conclusion.

“There was a very clear pattern and custom of usage by elected officials and agencies in interpreting the provisions,” Cumming said. “They all knew that it applied to elected officials.”

Under Fire

Since releasing her report two week ago, Cummings has been under fire by Mosby’s supporters, including a former State’s Attorney’s Office employee who put up a post about Cumming on Facebook that included a red “X” superimposed on Cumming’s photo.

mosby cumming facebook

Meanwhile, City Solicitor Jim Shea, reviewing the city’s travel policies at the request of Comptroller Bill Henry, concluded that the reporting requirements in the Administrative Manual were ambiguous, leaving “no clear answer” about whether Mosby was in violation of them.

A City Hall work group has been convened to review the travel rules.

“Is it possible,” Hall asked, “the problem lies with the ways the manual explains the rules?”

The city solicitor, Cumming said, “had limited examples” to review “that didn’t give him enough to determine the custom and usage,” whereas she “had the opportunity to look at all the examples.”

Mosby has not spoken to reporters about the OIG report, but last week issued this exculpatory statement on Twitter.

State’s Attorney Mosby has not spoken to reporters about the OIG report, but last week issued this statement on Twitter.

“I outline facts”

Cumming was asked by Hall to respond to those who say it doesn’t make sense to require the reporting of travel that doesn’t cost taxpayer dollars.

Cumming said the reporting requirement is the only way citizens would know if an official was out of town during business hours. She said the policy was a response to earlier criticism of mayors Martin O’Malley and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for “taking too many trips.”

Board approval of the travel, she said, would show, “if anything happened for liability purposes, this was a sanctioned event.”

Hall asked about Mosby’s objection to “people insinuating that she is doing something unethical or illegal.”

He quoted from Mosby’s lawyers’ complaint that the OIG report portrayed the state’s attorney’s trips to overseas conferences as “gallivanting around as a tourist.”

“I can promise you that the word ‘gallivanting,’ that is not in my report. I would never say that,” Cumming said. “I literally outline the truth. I literally outline the facts. I made no judgment.”

Others are free to come up with their own interpretations (“I think it’s wonderful that the mayor is trying to clear up the solicitor’s concerns”), but the Office of the Inspector General is only required to produce facts, she said.

“My office did that – we absolutely stand by our report.”

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