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Baltimore State’s Attorney Mosby wants inspector general to wrap up investigation into her travel and businesses

Baltimore City state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby is asking that an Inspector General's investigation into her private business and travel - one she requested - be concluded because it is eroding public trust in her office.
Baltimore City state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby is asking that an Inspector General's investigation into her private business and travel - one she requested - be concluded because it is eroding public trust in her office. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore S/Baltimore Sun)

Six months after asking the inspector general to investigate her travel and personal businesses, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby wants the probe wrapped up, arguing that a lack of resolution undermines public trust in her office.

In a letter Thursday to Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming, an attorney for Mosby noted the prosecutor’s office has turned over travel receipts, expense reports, calendars and more than 4,000 emails. Mosby provided her tax returns and a year’s worth of bank and credit card statements, too. Investigators downloaded the text messages and call logs from her cell phone.

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“It’s fair to deduce that the State’s Attorney has gone above and beyond to voluntarily provide you with what you need to conclude this investigation,” wrote Erin Murphy, chief counsel for the state’s attorney’s office. “The longer your investigation continues without any indication of a resolution in sight, detracts from the important work of our office and erodes the public’s confidence in State’s Attorney Mosby and our office.”

The attorney wrote that Mosby has offered an interview, but investigators haven’t taken her up on it. Mosby declined to comment on the situation Thursday.

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Mosby asked the inspector general to open the investigation last July amid questions about her trips abroad and revelations that she formed travel and hospitality companies while in office, and did not initially include them in her state financial disclosures.

Murphy wrote that the office had expected a speedy conclusion to the matter.

Further, she wrote that the Maryland State Ethics Commission told Mosby it found no wrongdoing. The commission did not return a message.

“Believing that your investigation would be expeditious, this office has denied several media inquiries, which would have refuted allegations of wrong doing on the part of the State’s Attorney months ago,” Murphy wrote. “Is there a timeframe in which we should expect resolution of your investigation?”

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Cumming would not comment on the letter when reached Thursday. It is not unprecedented for the Inspector General’s investigations to take six months or longer to conclude, and the office often releases detailed reports of its findings.

In August, Mosby’s office denied requests from The Baltimore Sun under the Public Information Act for documents related to her travel and businesses.

The letter to Cumming sets up a dispute between two leading accountability figures in the city.

The Inspector General’s office is an independent unit designed to be free from political pressure. The position is appointed by an advisory board comprised of the mayor, the city solicitor, the comptroller, a member of the city council and the city council president, who currently is Mosby’s husband, Nick. An inspector general only can be removed for misconduct or a failure to perform the duties of the office, according to city statutes.

It was an unusual move for an elected official to request an investigation of herself. Mosby explained her reasons in a July letter to the inspector general.

“I am confident that I have always abided by the ethical rules and regulations, and have been fully transparent about any gifts, travel, or other financial activity,” she wrote. “I am willing to share with you any and all documentation you request, including bank account statements, credit card statements, and inner-office financial ledgers. The people of Baltimore have endured far too many corruption scandals and need to know what is and is not illegal.”

She had weathered criticism in the preceding days about her travels and business dealings. Mosby registered three companies in 2019, but did not initially disclose them on her ethics forms. She later amended the disclosures to include the companies.

She wrote that Mahogany Elite Consulting would offer legal and consulting services; Mahogany Elite Travel would offer travel and hospitality services; and Mahogany Elite Enterprises LLC would operate as a holding company.

That Baltimore’s top prosecutor — one making nearly $240,000 a year — would start a travel and hospitality business raised questions. James Cabezas, the former chief investigator of public corruption in Maryland, asked the state prosecutor to look into the matter, too.

Maryland State Prosecutor Charlton Howard III declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for Mosby has said there’s no impropriety and the companies exist in name only.

Mosby also drew attention for trips abroad to Berlin, Portugal and Kenya. She has disclosed to the State Ethics Commission that she traveled at least 20 times for events over the past two years. Most of the travel — which cost a total of about $30,000 — was paid for by private organizations supporting progressive causes.

Mosby remains a sought-after speaker at criminal justice conferences and panels.

She became the youngest chief prosecutor of any major city in 2014, then won re-election four years later. The Sun chronicled Mosby’s travel in 2016, citing gifts and speaking engagement offers she received after filing criminal charges against Baltimore police officers over the death of Freddie Gray.

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