BALTIMORE — Baltimore City Comptroller Joan Pratt On Monday released an 18-page response to a March report from the Inspector General's Office that found she voted 30 times as a member of the Board of Estimates despite potential conflicts of interest.
In her response, Pratt and her attorneys go over each of the 10 entities for which she's accused of having a conflict with.
Pratt claims having no private interests in any of the 30 matters she voted on, and had cut off professional relations with most companies before they ever had business before the board.
Her lawyers called the Inspector General's investigation "deficient," saying Pratt nor any of the companies mentioned in the report were interviewed to determine their affiliation with Pratt.
Upon the report's release, Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming, told WMAR-2 News investigative reporter Mallory Sofastaii, that she didn't look into why Pratt listed the various entities on her List of Abstentions, just simply whether or not she was following her own list.
"The same company, one week she would add it to her list to abstain, the next week it was missing from it. So she would vote on it, and then it would be added back," said Baltimore City Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming.
Her response states that the @OIG_Baltimore's review was "deficient" bc her staff didn't interview Pratt or the entities abt the nature of affiliations leaving "the legal and ethical conclusions to the reader’s imagination." @wmar2news pic.twitter.com/JXLsJRUr5l— Mallory Sofastaii WMAR (@mal_sofastaii) June 22, 2020
The Inspector General's findings were a follow-up that stemmed from a prior investigation that uncovered a November 2017 Board of Estimates meeting that showed Pratt voted to approve a land disposition agreement, between the Baltimore City Department of Community and Housing Development and Bethel A.M.E. Church, for 15 city-owned lots.
RELATED: OIG says Joan Pratt voted 30 times despite potential conflicts of interest on BOE deals
At the same time Pratt was a trustee of the church, and member since 1976. In the past Pratt's personal business, Joan M. Pratt, CPA & Associates prepared the church's tax returns.
According to the agenda that day, the appraised value of the properties was $1,000 each or $15,000 total. But instead, the city offered to sell them to the church for only $1 a piece and $15 total.
During that investigation, Pratt reportedly acknowledged that she should have abstained from the vote because it was a conflict of interest.
Pratt and her legal representatives had asked the Inspector General for more time to respond to the findings prior to releasing the reports, but was denied.
Currently Pratt still sits on the powerful Board of Estimates. She was recently defeated in the primary election by former Councilman Bill Henry.
Read Pratt's entire response below.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Response to the Comptroller:
Today, the OIG received Comptroller Joan Pratt’s response to the Addendum to OIG Case #19-0084-I, which was issued publicly on March 19, 2020. The OIG thanks Comptroller Pratt and her team of attorneys from Barnes & Thornburg LLP for providing a response.
The OIG stands behind its reports.
The Addendum was based upon the factual comparison of Comptroller Pratt’s List of Abstentions (LOA) and her BOE votes. The OIG also made it clear that it did not conduct further interviews for the Addendum. The OIG did not address conflicts of interest in its Addendum report. The OIG afforded Comptroller Pratt the opportunity to respond prior to issuing its report, even granting an extension. The OIG refutes an assertion by Comptroller Pratt regarding the earlier Bethel AME report.
In her response, Comptroller Pratt’s attorneys state, “[t]he Inspector General reached her conclusion without analyzing, or even mentioning the existence of the Ethics Law in her Report.” The OIG did analyze the findings of the Ethics Board which found Comptroller Pratt’s vote was a conflict of interest.
The OIG has attached the written exchanges between the Ethics Board and Comptroller Pratt, which are public documents according to the Deputy Ethics Counsel (see attachment). Any violation of the Ethics Code is the sole determination of the Ethics Board.