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Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby avoids talk of federal investigation during town hall

Council President Nick Mosby held a virtual town hall to talk about the board's first 100 days in office.

Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby painted a picture of a newly revitalized and professionalized legislative arm of city government during a town hall meeting Tuesday evening, the first time he has publicly answered questions since a federal investigation into him and his wife, Democratic State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, was revealed last week.

Nick Mosby, who announced the town hall before the revelation, avoided questions about the probe, instead focusing on the board’s accomplishments in its first 100 days in office and his efforts to restructure it. The 15-member group of Democrats, including Mosby at the helm, was sworn in Dec. 10.

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“No longer are we here to just fill up potholes, boarding up houses,” Mosby said. “We’re really here to be your voice.”

The investigation appears to be focused on the Mosbys’ finances. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has requested a number of financial records linked to the couple, including tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, loan documents and canceled checks.

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The Baltimore Sun obtained a copy of a subpoena issued to Marilyn Mosby’s campaign treasurer seeking records related to Nick Mosby’s firm of Monumental Squared LLC and Marilyn Mosby’s Mahogany Elite Travel and Consulting.

Several Baltimore pastors confirmed they received subpoenas seeking financial records connected to Nick Mosby, and a business associate of his confirmed Monday that he has also received a federal grand jury subpoena.

Federal agents visited Nick Mosby at City Hall on March 10, arriving as he was leading a morning meeting of the city’s Board of Estimates, which he chairs as council president, according to A. Scott Bolden, an attorney representing both Mosbys.

Baltimore’s law department denied a Public Information Act request filed by The Baltimore Sun for any subpoena served upon Nick Mosby or the Office of the Council President. Neither Mosby has been criminally charged.

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On Tuesday, Nick Mosby was joined by Councilman Mark Conway, chairman of the City Council’s public safety and government operations committee, for what he promised would be the first in a series of periodic town halls. The council president appeared without his customary necktie, his collar unbuttoned as he sat in front of a fireplace and made attempts to keep the conversation upbeat.

“I remember I was so excited to call you and tell you that you were the chair of public safety and government operations,” Nick Mosby said, recalling a decision he made in December to install Conway, a freshman member of the board, as the chairman of the important committee.

“I remember calling you and you’re like, ‘No way,’” Mosby said, chuckling.

After highlighting the council’s newly streamlined committees — 12 committees were reduced to six under his leadership — and a more professionalized staff that he noted includes four people with law degrees, Mosby touched upon public safety, saying it is not the City Council’s responsibility to develop a crime plan. The board should instead develop legislation to provide more opportunities for city residents so they can be deterred from committing crimes, he said.

“When we take a step back and we talk about public safety, public safety has always been used particularly in Baltimore by everybody as like that thing that’s a shiny object that we can always point to, that we can always talk about,” he said.

“When we take Baltimore to Hollywood, that’s exactly what they paint, that issue around public safety,” he continued. “But we really want to paint public safety in a different way. We know we have problems, and we know we want to dig out of these problems. But there’s a way of doing it. There’s a way of standing on a soapbox to talk about it or there’s a way of digging into the data.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the town hall was held virtually. Questions were accepted via Facebook and the city’s virtual meeting platform. Submissions were screened by a member of Nick Mosby’s staff. A question submitted by The Sun about the federal investigation was not answered.

Nick Mosby did field several questions about city employees from an attendee on Facebook who asked about possible incentives for city employees to live in Baltimore.

“I’m all for it,” he said. “I think the more we create this ecosystem of city workers living in the city, paying tax dollars in the city, supporting our city, the better outcomes we get in our communities.”

Another resident asked Mosby about participatory budgeting, in which community members get input on how public money is spent. Mosby said he likes the idea but worries the “squeaky wheel” will get the oil.

It’s normally the community and the interests that have the most connectivity, resources into city government that kind of prioritize their issues,” he said. “I think it’s really important that when we look at it that we look at it through a lens of equity.”

Mosby closed the meeting on schedule, adding a plug for a City Council podcast he is launching as well as a magazine.

“Please stay engaged, please stay committed,” he said. “Please keep us and hold us accountable.”

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