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The Dripby Fern Shen5:00 pmJan 11, 20170

Pugh praises aide charged with making illegal campaign donations

Mayor says she doesn’t know source of $18,000 in question

Above: Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh waits to address the media, following news that aide Gary Brown, Jr. was indicted. (Fern Shen)

At Mayor Catherine Pugh’s first press conference since her longtime aide Gary Brown, Jr. was indicted for making illegal contributions to her campaign, she and a spokesman described the 35-year-old as something of a young protege or mentee.

“He’s an individual that I’ve watched grow over the last 10 years,” Pugh said, following a news conference in North Baltimore to highlight a mentoring program aimed at improving relations between police and young people.

Pugh said that Brown “has worked for us for almost a decade.”

“I met him when he was campaigning for state central committee,” she said. “He has a small business, he’s worked nationally, he was a very good legislative person.”

Anthony McCarthy, Pugh’s director of public affairs, had a similar description of Brown’s relationship with his boss.

“The mayor provided Gary Brown with a lot of opportunities to grow professionally and personally,” McCarthy said. “He served as a very able and loyal aide when she was in the legislature.”

As for whether she plans to keep Brown on her City Hall staff, where he began work last month as a $46,000 deputy special events coordinator, Pugh said he will stay for the time being.

“I always stand on the side that. . . you’re innocent til proven otherwise,” Pugh said.

“Things Happen”

Pugh was also asked about the legitimacy of  her close victory in the April primary amid charges that Brown funneled $18,000 into her campaign in the names of three family members.

Pugh characterized the alleged illegal contribution as, at most, “a glitch” to be corrected by returning the money.

“We know that things happen when we raise over $2 million,” she said. “If there is anything wrong with the funds that we received, we will go back.”

Pugh said her campaign made an effort “in our system. . . to catch every glitch that we can.”

“We have returned checks in the past and we will do that again,” Pugh added.

Asked if she knew where the $18,000 came from, Pugh said, “No.”

“I didn’t handle the funds. That’s not my job,” she said, as McCarthy called an end to the questioning, saying the mayor had to leave for Annapolis.

Proud and Supportive

According to McCarthy, Pugh did not know Brown was under investigation by the State Prosecutor until the Monday announcement of the six-count grand jury indictment.

Brown allegedly made three $6,000 contributions, the maximum amount for an individual under state law, to Pugh’s mayoral campaign in the names of his mother, stepfather and brother.

Asked about Pugh’s relationship with the family, McCarthy answered this way:

“Her interactions with his family were based on the fact that the mayor was very proud of and very supportive of Gary’s growth and his professionalism,” McCarthy said.

He described Brown’s City Hall job as coordinating “all special events including press conferences, the Christmas events, and when we do the MLK parade on Monday.”

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