Marvin James, Mayor Brandon Scott’s chief of staff, has amended his city ethics statement to include the names of five campaign committees, including those of his boss and of State’s Attorney Ivan Bates, that paid him for political work in 2022.
The disclosure follows Brew reporting that James failed to notify the Baltimore Board of Ethics of the sources of $27,114 he earned last year while he was employed as a full-time staffer for Scott.
The payments were found by cross-referencing the expenses filed by the political committees to the State Board of Elections.
The reports typically listed James as a campaign manager or consultant who was paid the following:
• $10,000 by Calvin A. Young III, who was running for state delegate in Baltimore County’s District 44B before he dropped out of the race.
• $6,000 by Jeffrie E. Long Jr., who won a delegate’s seat last November in Calvert County’s District 27B.
• $5,936 in two payments from People for Brandon M. Scott. Mayor Scott is running for reelection next year.
• $3,000 by Caylin A. Young, deputy director of the city Office of Equity and Civil Rights, who was elected a delegate in Northeast Baltimore’s 45th District.
• $2,178 from Ivan Bates, who defeated Marilyn Mosby last year to become Baltimore state’s attorney.
James was Bates’ campaign manager when he lost to Mosby in the 2018 Democratic Party primary. He then took charge of Scott’s mayoral campaign in 2020.
Shortly after Scott was elected, James was handed an $80,000-a-year patronage job in the mayor’s office, which has since blossomed into the COS position with annual pay of $170,000 after he replaced Chezia Cager.
Under Section 7-27 of Baltimore’s ethics code, senior staff like James are required to disclose “any income or salary” earned by themselves or by family members.
In his ethics statement covering year 2022, James reported no outside income, swearing under the penalties of perjury that his statement was “true to the best of my knowledge, information and belief.”
Last Thursday (June 15), James amended his original report to include the names of the campaign committees disclosed by The Brew. Compare the two statements below:
James has declined to answer questions or to speak on the record to The Brew.
UPDATE: Mayor Scott also did not respond to a request for comment, including whether he was concerned about his COS’ failure to initially report his outside income and whether he planned to make James his re-election campaign manager.
One question unanswered by James is how he managed to work for five campaigns without taking a leave of absence from his city job. While public employees can participate in electoral activities, they are barred from working for candidates during working hours – especially if paid – and from using “the prestige of office” for private gain.
Unanswered question: How did James manage to work for five campaigns without taking a leave of absence from his city job?
A person who falsely makes an oath or affirmation required by local, state or federal law can be subject to imprisonment of up to 10 years under Section 9-101 of the Maryland Criminal Code.
The perjury law is rarely enforced by state authorities, while omissions in an ethics statement have traditionally been “cured” by an amended statement.
This time around may be different.
Mosby Case and Next Possible Steps
A year ago, the ethics board ordered City Council President Nick Mosby to reveal his interest in a legal defense fund set up for himself and his wife, the now-indicted Marilyn Mosby.
After Mosby refused to comply, the board pressed its case in Baltimore Circuit Court, and the judge ruled in the board’s favor in February, requiring Mosby to disclose the existence of the fund in his ethics form.
While saying he is barred by confidentiality rules from making any statement regarding an individual, J. Christoph Amberger, director of the ethics board, told The Brew that “where late or incomplete financial disclosures are concerned, the board and staff will follow the precise process as outlined” in section 9-5.1 of the ethics code.
That section says that a public servant who does not submit “a complete financial disclosure statement” on time is subject to a $10-a-day late fee of up to $1,000.
The due date for James’s statement was April 30, 2023, or 46 days before his complete amended statement was filed last Thursday, which could result in a fine of $460.
“Where late or incomplete financial disclosures are concerned, the board and staff will follow the precise process as outlined” – Ethics Board Director Chris Amberger.
The code further notes that “if a public servant has failed to file a complete financial disclosure statement within 30 days of the date required, the Ethics Board must refer the matter in writing to the Office of the Inspector General for investigation.”
Amberger would not say if the board has referred the matter to the OIG.
Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming, reached today, refused to comment, saying, “I cannot talk about any particular case.”
According to another part of the ethics code, city employees who fail to follow a board directive can be stripped of their salary until they comply – and can be “removed or subjected to other disciplinary action by the appropriate authority.”
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