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Pugh on campaign finances: 'We did everything by the book'

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Wednesday she was not concerned about charges filed by state prosecutors against two of her campaign donors.

"I don't talk about campaigns here," Pugh told reporters at City Hall after the Board of Estimates meeting. "We did everything by the book. Our campaign report is public and open to scrutiny."

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Prosecutors want a political slate funded by former Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. to pay a $3,000 fine for making a $100,000 loan to Pugh that allegedly violated campaign finance laws.

Pugh was not a member of the Baltimore County Victory Slate at the time of the loan, and so was ineligible to receive it, prosecutors said.

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Smith now makes $175,000 as a top aide to Pugh at City Hall. Pugh has joined the slate and repaid the loan.

On Wednesday, the mayor referred to a statement from her campaign, which called the matter a "clear and obvious misunderstanding."

Prosecutors have announced an indictment against longtime Pugh aide Gary Brown Jr., who is accused of illegally funneling money to the campaign through family members.

Prosectors say Brown, a former legislative aide to Pugh who served as a spokesman during the mayoral campaign, tried to circumvent limits on individual donations by depositing $18,000 in cash among the bank accounts of his mother, stepfather and brother and then immediately contributing the money to Pugh's campaign.

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The state limits individual campaign contributions to $6,000.

State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said it was "unknown" how Brown got the $18,000. The investigation is continuing, he said.

Baltimore Democrats had been appointed Brown to fill a vacancy in the House of Delegation. After his indictment, Gov. Larry Hogan rescinded the appointment. Former City Councilman and Baltimore mayoral candidate Nick J. Mosby has been appointed to the opening.

If convicted, Brown could be sentenced to a year in jail and fined $25,000.

Pugh has said Brown is "innocent until proven otherwise." He continues to work in the mayoral communications office at City Hall, a job that pays $46,000 annually.

Political observers have urged Pugh to be transparent and provide detailed explanations for the campaign contributions.

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