The Brew has uncovered a new $10,000 payment that Marvin James, Mayor Brandon Scott’s former campaign manager and current chief of staff, kept hidden from the Baltimore Board of Ethics.
Not included, however, was $10,000 that James received as a political operative for Jazz Lewis, a Prince George’s County delegate (D – 24th) who had entered the Democratic primary race in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District.
Because the payment to James pertained to a federal election, it was not found in the Maryland Board of Elections database.
Instead, the $10,000 – paid in a lump sum last June – was disclosed by Friends of Jazz Lewis in a filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The latest disclosure brings to six the number of political campaigns that James worked on last year while employed by the city.
Missing from Latest Disclosure
In his June 15 amended statement to the city ethics board, James “solemnly affirmed under the penalties of perjury” that he included “all sources of [outside] income . . . to the best of my knowledge, information and belief.”
James confirmed Brew reporting that he had received money from five sources – including $5,936 from his boss’ own campaign committee, People For Brandon M. Scott, and $2,178 from Ivan Bates, Baltimore’s new state’s attorney.
Other paychecks came from Caylin A. Young, who now represents northeast Baltimore’s 45th District; Jeffrie E. Long Jr., who won a delegate’s seat in Calvert County; and Calvin A. Young, who eventually dropped his House bid in Baltimore County’s 44B District.
Neither James nor Mayor Scott has responded to questions about these payments.
Scott has not explained why he recently promoted James to chief of staff – one of the most important administrative positions in Baltimore government – as he prepares for his reelection campaign in 2024.
Asked if he was concerned that his top aide did not disclose outside political work, Scott has not responded.
James initially told The Brew that he was advised by “ethics and the administration” that disclosure of his outside income wasn’t necessary. In a separate statement, he said he works in the Scott administration “on behalf of the residents of Baltimore City.”
Under Section 7-27 of the city ethics code, senior staff like James are required to disclose any income or salary earned by themselves or family members outside of city government.
After publication of The Brew story, James was told by the ethics board to amend his statement.
His first amendment, dated June 5, did not name Long’s campaign committee, which paid James $6,000 as a political consultant, according to State Elections Board records.
James submitted a second amended statement on June 15.
It disclosed the Long payment, but made no mention of his paid political work for Jazz Lewis.
Soliciting Campaign Money
Written material shows that James actively worked on Lewis’s congressional campaign in the early months of 2022, while holding down a $91,000-a-year job as Scott’s deputy director of neighborhoods.
In March 2022, for example, he wrote a letter to potential donors that began, “Hi, it’s Marvin from Jazz Lewis’s campaign for Congress,” that provided a secure link for contributions “so Jazz can be the fresh, bold voice our families need in Congress.”
The letter lists James as Lewis’s campaign manager (see below). In April 2022, Lewis dropped out of the Congressional race and concentrated his efforts on successfully winning re-election as a state delegate in Prince George’s 24th District.
It was on June 3, 2022 that Friends of Jazz Lewis paid $10,000 to James for “strategic consulting,” according to FEC records.
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