Baltimore City Council recognized the city’s embattled outgoing State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby on Thursday, approving a resolution at the behest of her husband, Council President Nick Mosby.
The pro forma measure, approved by a 10-1 vote, honored the state’s attorney’s eight years of “distinguished service” to Baltimore. The city’s top prosecutor, who is facing federal criminal charges, lost a hotly contested primary election in July. She is due to leave office Jan. 2.
Marilyn Mosby was federally indicted in January on perjury and mortgage fraud charges. Federal prosecutors say she lied about enduring financial struggles because of the coronavirus pandemic to make early withdrawals from her city retirement savings under the CARES Act, Congress’ first pandemic relief package. She used the roughly $80,000 in withdrawals to make down payments on a pair of vacation properties in Florida: an eight-bedroom house near Disney World and a condo on the state’s Gulf Coast.
According to her indictment, the Democratic state’s attorney duped lenders by claiming the Orlando-area house was a second home, to secure a lower interest rate, when she’d already arranged for a company to run it as a rental. Federal prosecutors say she also neglected to disclose she owed the government unpaid taxes.
Marilyn Mosby has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial March 27. She has asked to have her case transferred out of Baltimore.
The state’s attorney appeared in City Council chambers Thursday for the recognition. Most members stood to applaud, and the charges against her went unmentioned as several members sang her praises.
Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton called Marilyn Mosby a strong woman who has broken barriers for other women in the city.
“You hold your head up high and you keep moving and doing good things for your city and throughout our nation,” Middleton said.
Councilman Zeke Cohen was the only member of the 11 present to vote against the measure. He said he felt it was inappropriate to vote for the measure while the state’s attorney remains in office. Council is charged with holding her and her office accountable, Cohen said.
Councilmembers Phylicia Porter, Ryan Dorsey, Eric Costello and Antonio Glover were absent from the meeting. All members of the council are Democrats.
Honorary resolutions in council chambers are commonplace. The council recognized staff member Matt Stegman with a resolution last month as he departed for a new position, and in June, Avery Aisenstark, the outgoing director of the Department of Legislative Reference, was recognized. The council also honored school paraprofessionals with a resolution in October and park and recreation employees in July.
Nick Mosby said he felt it was appropriate to honor the state’s attorney as the second woman elected to the position. Patricia Jessamy, who served from 1995 to 2011, was the first.
“We’ve honored two white men on the floor while they were still serving us,” he said. “I think providing the same opportunity for the second female elected state’s attorney for the city, regardless of that being my wife, is appropriate for us.”
Maryland Policy & Politics
On Thursday, City Council also approved a resolution recognizing Sheriff John Anderson, the city’s sheriff of 33 years, who left office earlier this month. Anderson was defeated in the July primary by Sam Cogen, a former deputy in his office.
The council, which has sparred publicly with Anderson this year over his practice of posting eviction notices on shared and exterior doors and cut his budget, approved the measure by a 11-0 vote. Anderson was not present for the meeting.
Marilyn Mosby has been a polarizing figure during her time in the office. She made a name for herself nationally as a progressive prosecutor, charging six officers in the death of Freddie Gray ( though none were convicted) and decriminalizing drugs and other low-level offenses.
Locally, her years have been marked by controversy, however, including questions over her office’s effectiveness and her own temperament. The city’s bloodshed, which she had blamed on prosecutors and vowed to fix, is higher than ever. The average number of murders annually has jumped since she took office.
Some believe Marilyn Mosby has been refreshingly bold, attuned to the needs of an overpoliced Black community and single-handedly standing up to a racist criminal justice system. Others say she has been soft on crime and “waging war” on cops. Still others say she’s not liberal enough, masquerading as a progressive while maintaining a heavy hand.
During brief remarks Thursday, the state’s attorney said she found herself uncharacteristically emotional.
“People don’t understand the sacrifice that it takes to be a public servant in a city where you raise your children, in a city that you love so much,” she said. “And the one thing that I can say from the bottom of my heart is that being the state’s attorney for Baltimore City has been the greatest joy of my life.”