www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-ci-ethics-filings-20130617,0,4317431.story

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Mayor, Pratt exchange gifts -- but what?

Ethics forms filed for 2012

By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun

8:52 AM EDT, June 17, 2013

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Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt spent the better part of last year in heated political disputes, but by Christmastime, the two city leaders exchanged gifts.

They just can't agree on what was exchanged.

The mayor reported on her 2012 ethics filings that Pratt gave her a $50 gift card. Pratt says it was an umbrella.

"Christmas is the season to be jolly," Pratt told the Baltimore Sun Friday. "I live to give. We are one city."

Rawlings-Blake reported gifts from across the globe: a book from the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, a box of avocados from the Mexican ambassador to the United States and a "Divine Servant" sculpture from Somebody Cares Baltimore.

The mayor also received gifts from other politicians, including a $63 basket of Godiva chocolates from Democrat Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J. Like most of the items on Rawlings-Blake's disclosure forms, no date or occasion is listed for Booker's gift.

Her most expensive gift was a "crystal shooting star" from the U.S. Conference of Mayors that was valued at more than $500.

In all, Rawlings-Blake disclosed more than 20 gifts worth about $1,700. The other presents included dinners, bouquets, a bottle of champagne, a $68-Orioles sweatshirt and a rainbow birthday cake. She also received a vegan food basket with cookbooks from PETA, a Christmas poinsettia and a potted amaryllis.

Most of the gifts came from local business owners and attorneys.

Elected officials don't have to disclose gifts worth less than $20. There is no limit on the value of a gift an elected official can receive, but the ethics code specifically bars items that would compromise the individual's impartiality or give the appearance of doing so.

"Mayor Rawlings-Blake has always supported strong ethics laws and her annual disclosure form speaks for itself," her spokesman, Ryan O'Doherty, said in a statement.

Few city council members reported any gifts for 2012.

Councilman Brandon Scott was one who did. He reported receiving a $25 ink pen, a $55 engraved pocket watch, a $40 tie and a $50 engraved clock, all from local schools.

ywenger@baltsun.com

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