Baltimore’s Board of Ethics has filed a motion asking a judge to force City Council President Nick Mosby to comply with an order that the board issued earlier this year demanding he release the names of donors to a legal defense fund in his name.
The motion, filed last week, asks a Baltimore Circuit Court judge to begin penalizing Mosby for his noncompliance, arguing that he has “failed to take any actions” in the seven months since he challenged the order against him and “seeks only to delay.” A fine of up to $1,000 per day can be imposed for failing to comply with a city ethics order.
Mosby, a Democrat who has been serving as council president since December 2020, is disputing an ethics board ruling that called on him to cease fundraising for a legal defense fund in his name and turn over a list of donors. The ruling, issued in May, found Mosby violated the city’s ethics ordinance by indirectly soliciting for the fund that took donations from at least two city contractors.
Mosby initially said he would comply with the order but in June took the issue to court, filing a two-page motion challenging the board’s findings without the help of an attorney.
In November, Baltimore Circuit Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill granted an “emergency” request from Mosby to postpone a scheduled hearing on the order after the council president argued he was unable to get a lawyer.
Although the judge said Mosby had “no good excuse” for not filing his postponement request earlier, he called the case “important” and said Mosby should have the benefit of an attorney to make an argument in court. The next hearing date is currently set for Jan. 10.
By the November hearing, Mosby already had missed the deadline to submit a written argument outlining his objections to the Board of Ethics order. Fletcher-Hill said he would entertain a request from a lawyer, if Mosby is able to retain one, to submit a memo making such an argument.
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In its most recent filing, the Board of Ethics, represented by attorney Sarah Hall, argued the board never issued a stay on the penalty against Mosby when he failed to comply with its order and instead took the issue to court — a move permitted under the city’s ethics ordinance.
“Instead, the board, in good faith, has not yet sought enforcement of its administrative order during the pendency of the judicial review process,” the filing states. “It is in the public interest that his compliance is not delayed any longer.”
A spokeswoman for Mosby did not respond to a request for comment.
The dispute arose from a fund established for the legal defense of the council president and his wife, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, as they faced a federal criminal investigation last year into their financial dealings. Although Nick Mosby has not been charged with anything, Marilyn Mosby was charged this year with perjury and making false statements related to the withdrawal of funds from her city retirement account and the purchase of two Florida houses. Her trial, postponed multiple times, is set for March.
In its order, the Board of Ethics called on the council president to accept no payments from the fund and to ask the fund to cease fundraising on his behalf. Nick Mosby also was ordered to provide a list of all fund donors and donations to the ethics board. The deadline to comply with the order was in June.
According to the Board of Ethics, the Mosby’s legal defense fund received $5,000, its largest individual contribution, in August 2021 from the “resident agent” for a contractor that is a city-certified minority- or woman-owned business. The business was a subcontractor on a deal considered in 2020 by the city’s spending board on which Mosby sits, the board reported.
It also received a $100 donation from the executive director of a nonprofit organization that was awarded a multi-thousand dollar grant by the city in March.