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by Mark Reutter8:10 pmJun 14, 20230

Confirmed: Baltimore’s mayor will be in England to promote documentary film

The $3,300 trip by Brandon Scott to meet and greet festival-goers in Sheffield, England, will be paid for by the film director’s company, according to BOE records

Above: Promo for “The Body Politic” featuring Mayor Brandon Scott’s crime-fighting efforts. (dcdoxfest.com)

Yes, Mayor Brandon Scott will attend tomorrow’s world premier in England of “The Body Politic,” a film that traces his efforts to reduce gun violence in “a city plagued by funding shortages and escalating crime.”

What Scott’s public relations staff declined to confirm to The Brew on Monday is cited in the June 21 Board of Estimates agenda, released this afternoon by the comptroller’s office.

Next week the spending board will be asked to approve and authorize his outside-funded expenses to attend the Sheffield International Doc Fest on June 14-16.

The festival’s organizers “are very excited to have Mayor Scott attend this premier in person and meet audiences in England,” the agenda item says.

Documentary to debut on Mayor Scott’s efforts to curb violence in Baltimore (6/12/23)

The mayor will answer questions from festival-goers about his Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS) and holistic approach to combating crime, accompanied by Gabriel Francis Paz Goodenough, the film’s director.

The $3,300 cost for Scott’s travel, meals and hotel will be paid by Row House LLC, a company that is registered to Goodenough’s home address in Baltimore.

No taxpayer funds will be spent on the trip, according to the agenda.

Opening at the Sheffield Doc Fest is this film lauding Mayor Scott's commitment to crime reduction. (imdb.com)

Opening at the Sheffield Doc Fest is this film lauding Mayor Scott’s commitment to crime reduction. (imdb.com)

Travel Rules

Revised travel rules, approved by Scott and the BOE following criticism of the frequent out-of-town trips by former State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, call on the mayor and other elected officials to disclose and secure board approval for travel expenses paid by a third party that exceed $100.

Journeys outside of the continental U.S. also must be disclosed and pre-approved by the Board of Estimates.

Scott’s trip to Sheffield won’t come up for BOE approval until five days after he returns to Baltimore.

“The first failure of an elected official to make a timely [travel] disclosure shall result in a letter of reprimand from the Board of Estimates,” says the revised Administrative Manual (AM 239-1-2).

“Subsequent failures in the same calendar year shall result in fines starting at $100 and increasing by $100 for each successive failure to disclose,” the rules say.

And Loopholes

But there are two big exceptions.

If the elected official’s paid travel is conducted “for personal reasons or for political purposes” – rather than “for city business” – board pre-authorization is not required.

What’s more, any potential financial penalty may be waived “for good cause” shown to the Board of Estimates, which Scott controls by virtue of his vote and the votes of his two appointees, City Solicitor Ebony Thompson and Public Works Director Jason Mitchell.

According to its summary, the documentary “captures Scott in action whether he’s tackling press conferences, dealing with a variety of political opponents, watching the trial of George Floyd’s killer or spending time with Baltimore’s residents and groups with a vested interest in saving their city.”

Because “Scott is viewed by some as a contender for the national stage,” the film explores whether “his commitment to healing a fractured yet resilient city is a hope [voters] can believe in.”

“The Body Politic” does not have a posted date for showing in Baltimore, but an edited version may air in the future on PBS.

Scott is up for re-election next year and will face Democratic Party challengers in the May 2024 primary.

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