Gregg Bernstein and Marilyn Mosby

Gregg Bernstein and Marilyn Mosby (Baltimore Sun Photos / June 23, 2014)

The campaign of Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein has filed a complaint with the state Board of Elections over a mailer sent in support of challenger Marilyn Mosby.

The mailer, which lists Mosby's resume as well as relatives who work in law enforcement, carries an authority line saying it was paid for by the campaign account of her husband, a city councilman. But Nick Mosby's campaign has already spent the maximum allowed by law on his wife's effort, the Bernstein camp points out.

The complaint asks the elections board to determine whether the mailing is in excess of campaign finance limits and thus a violation of state law.

"How can we trust her to prosecute criminals and uphold the law if she cannot follow the law herself?" Bernstein's campaign said in a statement after filing the complaint.

The Mosbys said the authority line was a simple printing mistake, and called the Bernstein campaign "desperate."

Nick Mosby, who represents West Baltimore, said in an interview that his campaign did not pay for the mailer. He said his campaign and his wife's use the same graphic artist, who made a mistake. "It was human error," he said.

Marilyn Mosby is challenging Bernstein in Tuesday's Democratic primary for Baltimore state's attorney.

Marilyn Mosby said Bernstein was trying to deflect attention from the "scandal" of questions that have been raised about his ties to a police commander whom city prosecutors declined to charge after an investigation into alleged abuse of overtime.

The barbs reflect an increasingly negative tenor of the campaign. Mosby has been attacking Bernstein's record on crime, while he has been challenging her qualifications.

Records show Nick Mosby personally contributed $4,000 to his wife's campaign last summer, and his campaign transferred the maximum of $6,000 a few weeks later.

Jared DeMarinis, director of the division of candidacy and campaign finance, said he could not comment on the specifics of the complaint. Generally, he said that while spouses engaged in separate political campaigns can contribute an unlimited amount from their personal coffers, their campaign account expenditures and operations are still subject to strict rules.

On its website, the state Board of Elections cites publishing or distributing campaign material prepared by a candidate, and the sharing of operations, consultants and third-party vendors among the factors it considers when determining whether campaigns are working together.

Even if the authority line was a mistake, it could run afoul of rules requiring committees to publish an accurate authority line identifying who has paid for materials.

Bernstein has significantly out-raised Marilyn Mosby. As of June 13, she had $42,300 cash on hand, compared with Bernstein's $271,900.

Marilyn Mosby said Bernstein inspecting her campaign expenditures represents desperation. "He feels like he's going to lose," she said.

jfenton@baltsun.com