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The Dripby Fern Shen5:10 pmFeb 16, 20210

Cumming stands her ground, dismissing criticism by Mosby’s lawyers

Says it is “well-established” practice for city officials to get approval for travel even if no taxpayer funds are involved

Above: Baltimore Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming.(theleadership.org)

Responding to criticism from lawyers representing State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming said today she stands by the report she issued last week on Mosby’s travels, gifts, tax write-offs and private businesses.

In a letter on Friday, Mosby’s attorneys objected to what they viewed as the IG’s misleading framing of the prosecutor’s out-of-town trips, saying “your report makes it appear as though Mrs. Mosby was gallivanting around as a tourist.”

The lawyers, Andrew Jay Graham and David J. Shuster, also zeroed in on a specific issue: Mosby’s failure to get Board of Estimates pre-approval for some of her trips.

Cumming had said Mosby should have sought advance BOE permission for 15 trips in 2018 and 2019 that had exceeded five workdays, involved one or more weekends, or involved overseas travel.

Marilyn Mosby’s lawyers were paid with campaign funds (2/16/21)

Mosby’s lawyers argued that approval was only required when an elected official seeks reimbursement of city funds. They noted that the trips Mosby took were paid for by outside groups.

Firing back in a letter today, Cumming defended her interpretation of the city’s Administrative Manual, documenting what she called “the well-established practice of submitting travel requests to the BOE for approval despite no [general] funds being spent.”

Many Examples

Cumming said she found numerous instances of other elected officials, Baltimore Police personnel and other agency employees requesting advance board approval even when no city money was involved.

A trip to Cambridge, Mass., by Planning Director Chris Ryer, another to Austin, Texas, by Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, and trips to Belgium and China by Colin Tarbert, of the Baltimore Development Corporation, were among those that Cumming included in a review of the BOE minutes.

She noted that specific Administrative Manual provisions were cited in the travel requests by city personnel.

For example, a 2016 trip to Cuba by then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and others, to be paid for by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, cited this provision:

“Pursuant to AM 240-3, the Board of Estimates must take action on a Travel Request form if the trip will require travel outside the continental United States regardless of the source of funds, cost of trip or length of absence.”

After her review of the BOE documents, Cumming concluded that the travel policy “spans multiple administrations.”

She said her office interpreted the policy “as holding elected officials to the same standard as every other city employee, not a lesser standard.”

Despite Friday’s letter ending with, “Mrs. Mosby demands that you correct your report to fix the misstatements and inaccuracies,” Cumming today declared that “the OIG stands behind” the report and considers the Mosby investigation “closed.”

INSPECTOR GENERAL RESPONSE

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