BALTIMORE — Baltimore's state's attorney, a prominent figure in the racial justice movement, is not at fault for taking trips to conferences around the world, according to the city's solicitor who said rules for travel by elected officials are ambiguous and inconsistently applied.
Solicitor Jim Shea issued his opinion Thursday after a week of research into State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby's travels, The Baltimore Sun reported. Mosby attended two dozen events outside Maryland in 2018 and 2019 without getting approval for more than half of the trips, according to an inspector general's report released on Feb. 9.
Shea found examples of officials seeking approval for past trips, but he concluded Baltimore's administrative manual does not expressly require such permission. He recommended the city begin work to clarify the rules.
Mayor Brandon Scott said he was asking the solicitor and city administrators to come up with fixes. They are to present their recommendations in 90 days.
"Our administrative manual is not regularly updated and could benefit from a comprehensive assessment. I have asked this group to convene and present recommendations that remove any ambiguity in these processes for greater transparency and accountability moving forward," the mayor said.
Mosby's trips included a speech in Kenya in August 2019 about criminal justice reform efforts in Baltimore and visits to Germany and Portugal in May 2019 with other U.S. prosecutors to learn about criminal justice models in Europe.
While noting that almost $23,700 of the $27,015 total cost of the trips was paid by sponsoring organizations, the report found that six of the 24 trips were paid for in full or in part by Mosby's office or the city.
"The OIG found discrepancies between the travel reported on SA Mosby's state financial disclosure forms, the travel list she provided to the OIG, and the OIG's independent verification of costs," officials wrote. The investigator also determined that 15 of the 24 trips were not submitted to the Board of Estimates for required approval.
Mosby's attorneys defended her travel with a sharply worded letter, arguing public officials don't need to ask for permission when private groups and not taxpayers cover their travel expenses. Comptroller Bill Henry asked the solicitor, the city's lawyer, to research the matter and settle the dispute.
Mosby reached national prominence in 2015 when she declared that six police officers would be held accountable for the death of Freddie Gray, a Black man who suffered a broken neck while in police custody, triggering riots and protests. None of the officers was ever convicted over Gray's death, but her decision to swiftly charge the officers was admired among many Baltimore residents and she won reelection in 2018.