The murky professional background of Mayor Scott’s new chief of staff
Chezia Cager, said to have served in “senior advisory roles” in the Obama and Biden administrations, has no LinkedIn. The mayor’s office still has not disclosed her resume or salary.
Above: Last Tuesday’s press release from the mayor’s office announcing the appointment of Chezia Cager. (baltimore city.gov)
For the past week, The Brew has been asking Mayor Brandon Scott’s office for more information about his surprise pick for the powerful post of chief of staff.
The last time Chezia T. Cager worked in City Hall was in early 2010, when she answered constituent mail for Mayor Sheila Dixon. Back then, Scott was a $45,000 aide to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, then president of the City Council.
It therefore came as a surprise when Scott’s office announced that Cager, now 38, had subsequently served in “senior advisory roles” in both the Obama and Biden administrations, tasked with “leading improvement efforts impacting domestic policy, national operations and external engagements.”
Sometime before this announcement, Cager’s resume was scrubbed from LinkedIn and was nowhere to be found online. Asked for a copy, Monica Lewis, the mayor’s communications head, said, “I do not have the resume at this time.”
Lewis promised to send the resume. We also requested a list of Cager’s positions and responsibilities in the Obama and Biden administrations as well as her prospective salary as COS (her predecessor, Michael Huber, was getting about $185,000 when he resigned).
“Please give me a bit” and “look forward to this information” were Lewis’ replies, followed by six days of silence despite our followup requests.
Reached this afternoon, Cager declined to discuss her professional background.
All questions, she said, should be answered by Lewis.
In addition to our story about her role as a member of the 41st District Democratic Central Committee, here is what we have found:
• Cager served as one of about 55 young women who interned at the Obama White House in a program designed to expose Black college graduates to non-traditional careers in politics.
• Between 2015 and 2017, while Obama was president, she was listed as an “intermittent” public affairs employee in the Baltimore office of the Small Business Administration, starting at a salary of $52,688 and ending with pay of $62,329, according to OpenPayrolls.
• Between 2015 and 2021, she was listed as a full-time employee at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Woodlawn, with a 2021 salary of $84,766.
• In August, her public relations firm, Nidia Chez LLC, picked up $3,000 in consulting fees from the campaign committee of Caylin Young, a close ally of Scott who won the Democratic primary as a delegate from the 45th District.
Our query to the Biden White House seeking confirmation of her reported “senior advisory role” in his administration has not been answered.
Executing Mayor’s Vision
The COS position has long been considered among the most powerful and prestigious jobs in Baltimore government.
With the establishment of a chief administrative officer, city agencies no longer report directly to the COS, whose duties have shifted to executing the “mayor’s vision” and serving as a liaison between the mayor and legislators in the General Assembly.
Cager is set to take the COS job on the Monday after Thanksgiving.
In 2019, she formed Nidia Chez LLC, described in incorporation papers as a “small boutique public relations and events consulting” firm.
The firm subsequently got a Paycheck Protection Loan of $6,611 during the pandemic.
Through Nidia Chez LLC, Cager gave $250 to Scott during his 2020 campaign for mayor and, since then, has given $237 more.
She proved a bigger financial booster for her old boss, giving $500 to Sheila Dixon when she ran for mayor in 2020, state Elections Board records show.