For the second time, City Council President Nick Mosby has requested a deferral of travel policies that would require elected officials, including his wife, Baltimore State’s Attorney Maryland Mosby, to disclose out-of-state travel paid by third parties.
His request was made, according to an email obtained tonight by The Brew, so that his office could work “on additional clarifying and strengthening amendments to the policy that will not be ready for consideration at tomorrow’s meeting.”
The new rules arose after Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming faulted Ms. Mosby for not getting Board of Estimates’ approval for her out-of-town trips in 2018 and 2019.
The finding was part of a broader IG report that criticized the city’s top prosecutor for using a non-income-producing company to deduct travel expenses from her federal taxes and not disclosing a subsidized trip to a health spa.
Accusing Cumming of misleading the public, Mosby said she didn’t need board approval because the trips, including to meetings in Africa, Europe and Scotland, were paid for by third parties.
New Rules for Electeds
After City Solicitor James Shea called the rules ambiguous, Mayor Brandon Scott convened a work group to establish revised travel policies to cover local elected officials, including himself, members of the City Council, Comptroller Bill Henry and the two Mosbys.
The revised rules first came up on May 19 before the Board of Estimates, which Mosby chairs but in which Scott holds the majority vote.
Mosby stopped the vote from taking place, saying through his spokesperson that he wanted more time to learn about “how the revisions would affect reporting standards for the members” of the City Council.
(According to IG Cumming, only State’s Attorney Mosby failed to report her travels to the spending board, while Council members and other elected officials had disclosed their out-of-town travel even when paid for by third parties.)
The revised rules were to be part of the June 2 BOE agenda when Comptroller Henry tweeted that the new travel policy “will not be heard tomorrow.”
The comptroller “is supportive of the travel revisions,” a spokesperson said tonight, and had been looking forward to the opportunity “to clarity the Board of Ethics participation in the process.”
Mayor Scott’s office issued a public statement last month lauding the new rules as “consistent with Mayor Scott’s pledge to bring transparency and accountability to city government.”
In his memo to the board, Nick Mosby said his staff was in contact with the city solicitor and Department of Human Resources to improve the revised rules, which, as currently written, would require elected officials to report work travel that exceeds $100 (if paid for by a third party) or $800 (if paid for jointly by the city and a third party).
Non-elected city employees have long been required to report their out-of-town travel to the board.
Mosby did not say in his memo when he thought the “clarifying and strengthening amendments” he proposes would be ready for Board of Estimates consideration.