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Accountabilityby Mark Reutter5:03 pmDec 4, 20230

EXCLUSIVE: Julian Jones plans to propose amendments tonight to strip away the power of Baltimore County’s inspector general

UPDATE: Following the posting of this story, the County Council votes to delay a vote on the IG bill until December 18

Above: Baltimore County Council Chairman Julian Jones promotes a fundraiser for his campaign committee at the Owings Mills Marriott. (@julianejonesjr)

Julian E. Jones Jr., chair of the Baltimore County Council, has drafted amendments for consideration at tonight’s council meeting that will restrict Inspector General Kelly Madigan’s powers to investigate fraud, waste and abuse in county government and publish her findings without interference, The Brew has learned.

The amendments, which Jones privately circulated to Council members over the weekend, would fundamentally change a charter bill now before the council that would solidify the standing of the four-year-old office.

The Brew obtained the proposed changes from a Council source. Specifically, the Jones amendments would:

• Create a seven-member advisory board (the majority of them county officials) to oversee the inspector general’s office.

• Require Madigan and future IGs to submit their investigative reports to the advisory board prior to public issuance.

• Reduce the office’s subpoena powers under the charter bill.

• Potentially reimburse the legal expenses of a county employees involved in an IG investigation.

UPDATE: Following the posting of tonight’s Brew story and a public pushback, Jones requested that the Council delay for two weeks a vote on the IG bill.

Jones framed the delay as giving the public time to review the bill, saying, “In the spirit of being fully transparent, it is important we put some of the amendments in the light after we work through them so everyone can see them.”

He did not disclose that his amendments have the effect of weakening the IG’s powers.

Four Council members – Todd Crandell, David Marks, Izzy Patoka and Pat Young – said they were prepared to approve the IG bill as introduced without any amendments. A public work session on the bill will be held on December 12, followed by a Council vote on December 18.

Earlier Attempt to Gut the IG

“I am opposed to these last-minute changes,” Madigan told The Brew late today. “They are not consistent with the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Ethics and Accountability, which held public testimony from experts over an 10-month period.”

“This is the very same stuff that was tried two summers ago,” she added, referring to the attempt by County Executive Johnny Olszewski – with Jones’ help – to force Madigan to disclose her investigations to an oversight board and restrict her access to so-called “privileged” county records.

The 2021 bill was withdrawn by Olszewki after a public backlash and criticism by the National Association of Inspectors General, who condemned the bill as a means to “gag and shackle” the county’s watchdog.

“This is the very same stuff that was tried two summers ago” — IG Kelly Madigan.

Jones has repeatedly chastised Madigan as “too aggressive” and faulted her for investigating two complaints about him.

In the first case, she found that Jones had improperly used the county email network to solicit campaign donations, and in the second case that he aided a businessman and campaign contributor who wanted the county to repair a private alley.

Last week, when the charter bill was reviewed by the Council, Jones had nothing but kind words for the inspector general, cordially greeting Madigan before she testified in favor of the legislation he now wants to undermine with amendments.

To win approval of the changes he seeks, Jones will need the votes of at least three other Council members.

Prior to tonight’s public meeting, he reportedly held a private session to discuss his amendments and win the support of his colleagues.

Currently, the OIG has four employees and a budget of $520,741, a sliver of the county’s $4.9 billion budget for FY 2025.

Expected fireworks over the future of Baltimore County’s inspector general fizzles (11/28/23)

Baltimore County Inspector General Kelly Madigan. (Mark Reutter)

Baltimore County Inspector General Kelly Madigan last week. (Mark Reutter)

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