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Accountabilityby Mark Reutter5:32 pmDec 27, 20230

EXCLUSIVE: Scott and his fiancee are soliciting gift cards, cash and supplies online for their newborn

The solicitations do not appear to violate Baltimore’s ethics code, but raise questions about potential influence-peddling by gift givers

Above: $50 Target gift cards are among the items requested in the baby registry set up for Mayor Brandon Scott and his fiancee. (babylist.com)

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and his fiancée, Hana Pugh, have set up an online baby registry, requesting more than 400 items – among them cash and gift cards – from the public on behalf of their newborn son.

The list of items at Babylist for Charm Jamie Scott, who was born last night, includes $50 gift cards from Amazon and Target as well as $50 cash gifts.

The couple says it “needs” 50 Target cards and 49 Amazon cards, which would total $4,950 at $50 each.

Cash from donors “will go towards Charm’s savings account,” the registry says, while an additional 25 $50 Uber Eats and 25 $50 Door Dash delivery cards are sought “for the parents” totaling $2,500.

The couple says the cash contributions and gift cards can be sent to Pugh’s private email address.

Baby supplies – including strollers ($550 and $599), a Babyletto Drawer Dresser ($799) and a baby “travel system” ($1,229.90) – are to be delivered to the house that Scott recently purchased in northeast Baltimore.

So far, six cash gifts have been delivered to the couple, according to The Brew’s review of the registry, together with 90 other items purchased on behalf of the couple.

They include musical toys, a humidifier, baby carrier, infant clothes, portable changing table, bath towels, diapers, a breast pump, bassinet and baby walker.

UPDATE: Scott makes his baby registry private, while ethics officials say the mayor never sought a gift solicitation waiver (12/29/23)

Scott’s Response

Babylist.com allows its clients to set up a private registry, which limits access to family and friends, or a public registry, which is accessible by the general public.

Scott and Pugh opted for the public option.

To confirm that the registry was accessible to anyone in the public, The Brew went online at 5 p.m. today and purchased disposable nursing pads for $9.99. With shipping, the total came to $18.58.

Our transaction contradicted a written statement from the mayor’s spokesman, Bryan Doherty, who said “this is a private registry for family and friends.”

Doherty also asserted that the Baltimore Board of Ethics “has been consulted repeatedly” in regard to the registry and “have found no issue.”

Until today, however, ethics officials appear to have had no idea that the registry existed.

Brandon Scott expensive baby gifts

Although most of the gifts are under $100, there are some very expensive items, including the $1,229.90 stroller travel system and a $599.99. Uppababy Stroller. BELOW: A sample of the nearly 100 items already purchased for the couple. (babylist.com).

Brandon Scott’s Baby Registry

Public Applause

Scott’s gift solicitation comes amid widespread congratulations to the mayor and Pugh upon their announcement of Baby Charm’s arrival, and the news that mother and son “are doing great.”

Former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings posted “Congratulations!!!!!” on Instagram along with more than 1,600 overwhelmingly positive comments.

Former Mayor Catherine Pugh’s byline was on the story published today by the Baltimore Afro that added a few specific details, such as the child’s weight (6 pounds, 7 ounces) and time of birth (7:31 p.m.) at St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

Details about the ethics of the First Couple’s gift solicitation remain murky.

Baltimore’s ethics code forbids employees from knowingly accepting any gift from “controlled donors,” defined as those doing business with the city, or from using the “prestige of office” to solicit non-campaign money.

There are several exceptions, including allowing an elected official to participate in a charitable drive if the official gets prior permission from the Board of Estimates.

BOE records do not show that Scott sought board permission to solicit funds for his newborn son.


Scott and Pugh e-blasted this card for the holiday season.

No Apparent Violation

Misusing gift cards tripped up former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who resigned in 2010 after a jury found her guilty of  pocketing retail cards donated to City Hall for charity.

But the director of the Ethics Board said today that “there does not seem to be a prima facie violation of the ethics law” in the case of the Scott baby registry.

“At this point, I have no facts that would imply that city supplies or assets were used. At this point, it appears to be a case of a public official who is acting in his private family capacity,” J. Christoph Amberger told The Brew.

Amberger did not specifically address the question of why the couple’s registry is open to the public, opening the door for potential purchases by controlled donors and others seek to curry favor with the mayor.

Pugh, an operations director for a local nonprofit, also appears to be acting in a private capacity, he said, based on her solicitation of cash and gift cards through her private email account.

Mayor Scott’s girlfriend works for a nonprofit that spends little on its stated mission (7/19/23)

Amberger added, however, that gifts received by the Scott’s baby registry would be reportable in his annual financial disclosure form, due at the end of January and covering calendar year 2023.

“Gifts given to a child are part of the disclosure reporting obligations, in this case of mayor’s,” Amberger said. Because Pugh is not a spouse, the gifts she receives are not reportable on Scott’s disclosure form, he said.

Since revealing last July that he was dating Pugh (no relation to the former mayor), Scott and Pugh have been quite open about their relationship, posing for pictures online and sending out a holiday card that shows the couple, decked in colorful pajamas, lounging on a bed with Pugh’s son and the mayor’s dog.

Last month, the couple greeted guests at a baby shower held at City Hall.

“The mayor’s office asked for informal guidance by the ethics staff, and the appropriate law was pointed out to them, especially the ‘prestige of office’ provisions. That is all I can say,” Amberger said.

Full Statement by Mayor

“Mayor Scott, as he always has, continues to follow all ethics rules and places the utmost emphasis on leading with integrity. The Ethics Board has been consulted repeatedly in regard to this private registry for family and friends. The Board have found no issue, and the Mayor will make all necessary disclosures and accommodations based on the new, exciting additions to his family.”

Fern Shen contributed to this story. Contact editors@baltimorebrew.com.

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