Baltimore’s inspector general issued the results Tuesday of her seven-month investigation into the travel, businesses and gifts of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Here are seven takeaways:
Mosby travels, a lot
With overseas trips to Kenya, Scotland and Portugal, Baltimore’s top prosecutor spends a lot of time out of town. In fact, Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming wrote that Mosby spent 144 days away in 2018 and 2019. Mosby flew around the country, and even the world, as a speaker and panelist at progressive criminal justice conferences. She’s been in-demand ever since charging six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray.
No green light to go
Cumming concluded that Mosby broke the city’s administrative procedures for her out-of-town travel. The inspector general wrote that travel costing more than $800 requires approval from the city spending panel — regardless of who’s paying the hotel bill. Mosby’s trips were generally paid for by the criminal-justice nonprofits that invited her as a speaker. Baltimore’s Board of Estimates also must approve any travel that would keep Mosby away for five workdays. Mosby did not seek prior approval for any of her trips, the inspector general reported.
Tax dollars not misspent
The investigation, however, doesn’t fault Mosby for misspending taxpayer money. Nonprofits such as the Vera Institute for Justice and Fair and Just Prosecution paid for her travels. Mosby’s lawyers noted this. “As we fully expected, the OIG found no secret ‘under the table gifts’; no ‘double dipping’; and no financial improprieties whatsoever.” her attorney David Shuster wrote.
Where are the gifts?
Mosby reported on her financial disclosures 41 gifts she received in 2018 and 2019, but she said she offered them up for auction to help crime victims in Baltimore. Her office holds the holiday auction each year in December. So Cumming asked for documentation to substantiate that the gifts were actually auctioned, but she wrote that Mosby didn’t provide any proof. Cumming got a list of all the items donated for the auction, but she wrote that she didn’t see Mosby listed as a donor or any of the gifts listed. Mosby’s attorneys said she actually “over-reported” her gifts in the first place, Cumming wrote.
“The OIG found no evidence that any of the gifts she has received had been donated and auctioned at a past Winter Solstice event,” the report said.
Mosby drew plenty of questions about why she would start a travel and hospitality company while serving as Baltimore’s top prosecutor. She’s said she formed Mahogany Elite Travel to help underserved Black families vacation around the world at affordable rates. And she’s said the company exists in name only for now. But Cumming found Mosby sought to deduct $5,000 in losses associated with the businesses in her 2019 federal tax returns. Mosby turned over records showing she spent $7,600 on her companies for plane tickets, rental cars and meals at out-of-town restaurants. She did not take questions Tuesday about these claims.
“Baltimore State’s Attorney Mosby should have taken the necessary steps required for travel out of the city for government business. While it does appear many of the trips were paid using her personal/non-govt funds and that she has been disclosing travel, not seeking approval in these cases may unfortunately lead city residents to question the purpose of her trips,” said Joanne Antoine, executive director of the government watchdog group Common Cause Maryland.
Much remains to be seen. Mosby’s attorneys say the State Ethics Commission cleared her name, but panel members haven’t spoken publicly. In a statement from her spokeswoman, the state’s attorney said she was eager to move forward, so don’t expect Mosby to dwell on the report. City officials will be reviewing the findings.