BALTIMORE — Newly filed finance reports show Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her husband, City Council President Nick Mosby, spent tens-of-thousands in campaign funds on lawyers defending them in a federal criminal investigation.
Friends of Marilyn Mosby, the campaign finance committee run by the sitting Baltimore City State's Attorney, reported wiring a combined $37,500 to the Washington D.C. law firm Reed Smith LLP, in April and September of 2021.
Mrs. Mosby was indicted January 13 on perjury charges and making false statements on mortgage applications, relating to the purchases of two vacation homes in Florida.
Her attorney, A. Scott Bolden, claims she is innocent and has called the investigation a politically motivated witch hunt.
Neither charge against Mrs. Mosby appears to be related to her campaign or candidacy for Baltimore City State's Attorney, despite prosecutors issuing multiple subpoenas last March, seeking information related to her and her husband's businesses and campaigns dating back to January 2014.
So far, Mr. Mosby has not been charged with any crime.
Finance forms do show his campaign committee also wired $12,500 in campaign funds to pay legal fees to Reed Smith LLP between April and June 2021.
Is it legal for politicians to spend their campaign funds on personal legal fees?
According to article 33.13.10.03 of the Code of Maryland Regulations, "a political committee may not make an expenditure of campaign funds, directly or indirectly, in any amount for legal defense costs or expenses, except those relating to investigations or legal actions resulting from the conduct of the campaign or election."
Section 9.9(2) of the Summary Guide for Maryland Candidacy and Campaign Finance Laws reads similarly.
"It is prohibited for any candidate or political committee to use campaign funds for legal or other expenses related to investigations or court proceedings that do not have a direct connection with the candidacy. For example, investigations or charges involving misconduct in an individual’s employment or public office are not campaign-related, even if the charges first come to light as a result of the individual’s decision to run for elected office. Non-campaign-related legal costs are considered “personal” expenses for purposes of the campaign finance laws."
Last year the political power couple also organized their own personal legal defense fund.
Although the Board of Elections does allow candidates to establish a fund that's separate from their campaign committee, it does note in its summary guide that "if the candidate is an officeholder, ethics rules on gifts and disclosures may apply."
It's unclear how much the Mosbys have raised for their defense.
If convicted, Mrs. Mosby faces a maximum sentence of 70-years behind bars. She is up for re-election in late June. Her lawyer is pushing to have the case go to trial within a few months.