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OIG: Joan Pratt voted 30 times despite potential conflicts of interest on BOE deals

Posted at 12:47 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 18:04:51-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Baltimore City's Inspector General (OIG) on Thursday released a follow-up report on Comptroller Joan Pratt's voting record on the City Board of Estimates (BOE).

The OIG found Pratt failed to recuse herself from voting on 30 different agenda items, involving 10 organizations who were on her abstentions list.

Votes for the contracts, grants, and pre-qualifications totaled $48 million.

RELATED: Comptroller Joan Pratt admits her vote in city, church land deal was conflict of interest

The findings are based off the OIG's review of three years worth of BOE agendas, minutes, and video recordings.

The OIG began looking into Pratt after a complaint was filed against her following a November 2017 vote on a 15-lot land deal with Bethel AME church, where Pratt also sits on the Board of Trustees.

Pratt sent WMAR-2 News a written statement responding to the OIG's report syaing it includes "numerous misleading and falses conclusions."

"Prior to its release, I requested additional time for me to provide her the evidence to correct those mistakes," Pratt wrote. "Though the Inspector General would not delay the publication of her false Addendum, I anticipate that the internal investigation being conducted on my behalf will lead to a report that will show that the Inspector General never interviewed key witnesses who were available and, most importantly, would have corrected those blatant errors in the Inspector General’s Addendum."

Click here to view her full response.

Pratt's lawyer also asked the OIG to grant an extension from March 18 until April 7, which was denied.

The Inspector General didn't look into why Pratt listed the various entities on her List of Abstentions, 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.

In her letter to Cumming, Pratt asked for additional time to fully review the report and conduct her own independent review to determine whether or not a conflict existed.

"In addition, appropriate staff will need to be engaged to review initially, the List of Abstentions; how the List of Abstentions were developed week-to week, maintained, the basis for changes made in the List of Abstentions; and, how the List of Abstentions was used by BOE staff to determine which items on the agenda were abstentions for me to be reported to the Deputy Comptroller/Clerk to the Board to announce at Board of Estimates meeting/s during the period covered in the Addendum. This must be done while completing other BOE tasks, which do not allow any flexibility in when they are performed," wrote Pratt.

Pratt added that the OIG had longer than a two-week period to prepare the Addendum, therefore it isn't unreasonable for her to ask for additional time.

"Well, my response was we did do it two weeks that's a proven fact," Cumming said.

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii asked Cumming whether it was possible that the 30 items could have been an oversight or administrative error.

Cumming replied: "Anything's possible, it's just whether it's probable."

Read the entire report below.

Pratt OIG Report by Wmar Web on Scribd