Rawlings-Blake to repay more than $5K in expenses to campaign

Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has agreed to repay her campaign more than $5,000 after a state audit determined the spending was not related to campaign activities.

Most of the repayment — about $4,800 — is for Rawlings-Blake's use of campaign funds to pay for a suite at M&T Bank Stadium in April 2016.


The state Board of Elections audit came in response to a complaint filed by the Baltimore Brew news website. The Brew's complaint, filed in December, questioned more than $70,000 in campaign expenses after Rawlings-Blake declared she was no longer seeking re-election, including a $20,000 security deposit for a "thank-you" party for supporters.

"We request that these and related expenditures in the campaign finance documents be thoroughly examined by your office," Brew reporter Mark Reutter wrote.

In paperwork filed with the state, Rawlings-Blake campaign officials argued that the expenses were proper because they helped maintain a network of the former mayor's supporters after two decades in office.

Before announcing in September she wouldn¿t seek re-election, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake paid for two polls, her campaign finance records show.

"Through her ongoing efforts, Ms. Rawlings-Blake continues to maintain one of the highest profiles of any Maryland elected official," the campaign wrote. "The campaign expenditures to date have served to effectively maintain her profile and consistently sustain relationships with the donors and volunteers who continue to be valuable for future political endeavors."

But Jared DeMarinis, the Maryland State Board of Elections' campaign finance director, determined use of the stadium suite and more than $200 spent on gift bags at a U.S. Conference of Mayors event did not have a "direct nexus" with Rawlings-Blake's campaign efforts.

Rawlings-Blake responded this month that she would repay the expenses in question by the end of the year.

"Every dollar spent by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for Baltimore ... was an investment in the myriad people who have helped and will help me manifest my commitment to public service," she wrote. "Not withstanding this truth, this letter advises you the Committee will be reimbursed the $5063.28 outlined in your letter dated July 27, 2017."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake — who recently declared she won't seek re-election — has $365,000 in her campaign account. What will she do with all that money?

The mayor said she would also repay about $350 used to pay for gifts to U.S. Conference of Mayors and Democratic National Committee staffers. DeMarinis had also questioned those expenses.


Rawlings-Blake said she would supply three receipts for other expenses questioned by the state.

"I will close this matter as described above with full payment by 12/31/2017," the former mayor wrote.

She declined to comment further.

Rawlings-Blake announced in September 2015 that she would not seek re-election. Under state law, she can hold on to state campaign money for up to eight years after leaving office. She has $178,000 left in her account.

If she has campaign money left at the end of eight years, it must be returned to contributors or donated to government, political party or charitable entities.