Marilyn and Nick Mosby
Marilyn Mosby’s lawyers were paid with campaign funds
In a possible violation of state law, legal fees arising from the inspector general’s investigation of the travel and business activities of Baltimore’s state’s attorney were paid by Mosby’s campaign committee. A BREW EXCLUSIVE.
Above: Kramon & Graham attorneys Andrew Jay Graham and David Shuster. (Kramon & Graham PA)
The campaign committee of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby paid the law firm that represented Mosby in the investigation of her travel and private companies by the city inspector general.
A $3,250 check to the local law firm, Kramon & Graham, came a month after two of its principals, Andrew Jay Graham and David J. Shuster, were retained by Mosby as her private legal counsel.
“As you know, Andy Graham and I represent Ms. Mosby,” Shuster wrote in the August 19 letter to Baltimore Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming, who was conducting the probe.
Their letter went on to inform Cumming of how Mosby would respond to the IG’s document requests, noting that “Ms. Mosby is confident she did nothing inappropriate” and “remains committed to cooperating voluntarily with you in this matter.”
On September 20, Mosby’s campaign committee, Friends of Marilyn Mosby, issued the payment to Kramon & Graham for “legal fees – general,” according to its annual filing with the State Board of Elections.
The report was signed under penalty of perjury by Mosby, who chairs the committee, and Sharif J. Small, treasurer.
Maryland law broadly bans the use of campaign funds for “the personal use or the personal benefit of a candidate.”
Specifically, Chapter 33.13.10.03 (“Prohibited Expenditures”) of the Code of Maryland Regulations forbids campaign committees to pay the “legal defense costs or expenses” of a candidate unless they relate to an “investigation or legal action resulting from the conduct of the campaign or election.”
The law also prohibits the use of campaign funds for expenses “related to the necessary and ordinary course of holding office,” expenses “relating to travel outside the country,” and mortgage, rent, utilities and other personal costs that would occur regardless of whether an individual held public office.
Not Election Lawyers
Neither Graham nor Shuster list election law or campaign finance as among their practice areas (here and here).
The IG investigation was not concerned with Mosby’s 2018 re-election campaign, but instead focused on the state’s attorney’s travels, gifts and private business activities in 2019.
Graham is a former federal prosecutor who led the successful defense of Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who faced murder charges leveled by Mosby’s office after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray.
(Before Goodson was cleared of the charges in a bench trial, Graham accused Mosby of poisoning the public against Goodson with her public statements.)
CABEZAS CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION
2/16/20 UPDATE – The former chief investigator for the Maryland State Prosecutor, Jim Cabezas, has asked State Prosecutor Charlton T. Howard III to investigate Marilyn Mosby’s use of campaign funds to pay legal fees in connection with the OIG investigation.
In a letter citing The Brew’s reporting, Cabezas said, “I feel absolutely certain that Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marylin Mosby is prohibited from using monies from her campaign fund known as Friends of Marilyn Mosby.”
Shuster describes himself as a commercial litigator who represents clients in “high-stakes business and real-estate litigation,” especially in “highly sensitive matters where reputational management is crucial.”
Shuster and Graham, as well as Mosby and her campaign treasurer, have not yet responded to an email request for comment on the $3,250 payment.
The IG investigation was requested by Mosby herself last July after the Baltimore Brew wrote about her frequent out-of-town trips and many gifts received while Baltimore’s top prosecutor.
The article further disclosed that Mosby had established three travel and consulting businesses in May 2019 that were not disclosed on her state ethics form until July 2020 after this website reviewed the form.
Cumming posted her investigative findings last Tuesday. Her office cleared Mosby of misuse of public funds (which was never alleged by the Brew’s reporting), but also noted that Mosby was:
• Physically absent from her office on 144 workdays in 2018 and 2019.
• Did not properly disclose her overseas travel to the Board of Estimates.
• Did not donate some gifted items to an office auction, as her spokesman claimed she had done.
• Used her “Mahogany Elite” businesses to make tax deductions and pay for airplane tickets for herself and her husband, then state delegate and now City Council President Nick Mosby.
Since the report’s issuance, Graham and Shuster have vigorously contested the findings.
On Friday, they circulated to some media organizations a letter denouncing the IG report as misleading and “a frustrating and unnecessary chapter in our client’s professional life.”
The letter objected to the report’s findings about her trips, including to a previously-undisclosed conference at a Virginia spa. Graham and Shuster said Mosby had inadvertently omitted the three-day conference from her state ethics report.
They defended the conference, sponsored by the Vera Institute of Justice, as an opportunity for Mosby “to share ideas and discuss strategies for dealing with the unique challenges that they face as African-American female prosecutors, including harassment, intimidation and threats against them.”
The lawyers further questioned why Cumming “would be wading into the subject” of Mosby’s private businesses and federal tax deductions, noting that the businesses are “not operational.”
According to their letter, Cumming had misinterpreted Board of Estimates procedures for travel requests and failed to give proper context to the gifts she received as state’s attorney.
“Mrs. Mosby demands that you correct your Report to fix the misstatements and inaccuracies outlined above,” the letter concludes.
Cumming told The Brew yesterday that she plans to publish the lawyer’s letter and issue a final letter to close the case. SEE UPDATE.
FOLLOW-UP – Mosby campaign issues statement on Brew’s story about her legal fees ( 2/16/21)
Previous Brew Coverage
• The Peripatetic Prosecutor: Marilyn Mosby took 23 trips in 2018 and 2019, accepting $30,000 in reimbursements (7/16/20)
• Marilyn Mosby answers few questions about her travel company (7/21/20)
• Mosby asks Inspector General to review her travel and private businesses following Brew reporting (7/23/20)
• Former state investigator asks for probe of Marilyn Mosby’s travel and consulting business (7/29/20)
• Seeking exoneration, Marilyn Mosby instead gets highly critical report from Baltimore’s Inspector General (2/9/21)
• For Marilyn Mosby, a taxing question (2/14/21)