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Baltimore Lawmakers Ask City Council President Nick Mosby To Return Donations That Violate Ethics Law

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A group of Baltimore city council members is asking Council President Nick Mosby to return the money collected by a fund that was created to cover his legal expenses, according to the Baltimore Banner.

The Baltimore City Board of Ethics said on Thursday that Mosby violated the city's ethics law when he accepted the donations. His wife, Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, benefited from the donations too.

All four members of the board found the donations violated a section of the ethics law prohibiting "a public servant from soliciting—or facilitating the solicitation of—a gift from a controlled donor," according to a newly published report.

The group of local lawmakers—consisting of Zeke Cohen, Kris Burnett, James Torrence, Ryan Dorsey, Phylicia Porter, and Odette Ramos—sent their refund request to Mosby in a letter, which was obtained by Baltimore Banner staff on Saturday.

"The Ethic Board's Administrative Order provides a clear and straightforward path for you to correct your multiple Ethics violations," the letter states. "For the sake of the trust and morale of both the public and the City Council, we ask that you immediately and fully comply with the Order."

Baltimore Banner reporter Emily Sullivan noted that the eight council members who did not issue a public comment on the ethics debacle were allies of Mosby "appointed by him to lead legislative committees or introduce bills on his behalf."

Those council members consist of John Bullock, Eric Costello, Danielle McCray,  Mark Conway, Sharon Green Middleton, Robert Stokes, Antonio Glover, and Isaac "Yitzy" Schleifer.

The Mosby Trust, a group soliciting legal defense funds for what it calls an "unjust, politically-motivated federal criminal tax investigation," is made up of people known to the council president, though he declined to provide their names.

In a statement, Mosby denied any breach of the ethics code and said he's "completely perplexed" by the board's findings.

"The Board is fully aware that I have never asked, requested, or solicited any person to donate to the 'legal defense fund.' The Board further knows that I never assisted in the creation of the legal defense fund or the entity that controlled the funds that were donated. In fact, I proactively disclaimed any interest in that trust fund, in advance of their findings, and I instructed the trust to return the limited amount of funds received on my behalf.

The board said Mosby must disclose his "beneficiary interest" in the trust and amend his campaign financial forms within 30 days, and he is ordered to no longer accept payments from the trust.

Mosby must also ask the group to stop collecting donations on his behalf within 30 days and return any funds to donors.

In a statement, Mayor Brandon Scott said the report marks "another sad day for Baltimore and another unwanted distraction as we work to move our city forward."

"These violations reflect poorly on our city as a whole and are counterproductive. I vow to continue to work to rebuild the public trust between our residents and the City government," he said.

In March 2021, federal prosecutors announced an investigation of the couple's finances, asking for records including tax returns from 2014 through 2020, canceled checks, receipts and credit card and loan statements.

Marilyn Mosby is set to stand trial in September, where she faces accusations that she lied about enduring financial hardships related to COVID-19 to withdraw money without penalty from her retirement account and that she falsified information on loan applications for two properties in Florida.

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