City Lawyer: Mayor Didn’t Violate Ethics Law

BALTIMORE (AP) — Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake did not violate city ethics laws by voting on contracts involving Johns Hopkins University, despite her husband’s employment with a Hopkins subsidiary, Baltimore’s top lawyer reported Thursday.

Rawlings-Blake’s husband, Kent Blake, started a job in December as an intake coordinator with Johns Hopkins Community Physicians.

The city’s ethics code generally prohibits officials from voting on contracts in which relatives have a financial interest.

Since her husband began working for JHCP, Rawlings-Blake has voted to approve 22 contracts involving the university, valued at more than $2.3 million. But Johns Hopkins is a complex institution, and her husband’s employer is not part of the university. Instead, it’s part of the Johns Hopkins Health System, which includes Johns
Hopkins Hospital.

City Solicitor George Nilson wrote in a memo to the mayor’s office Thursday that Rawlings-Blake should recuse herself from votes directly involving Johns Hopkins Community Physicians. But she can vote on matters involving other Johns Hopkins entities unless her husband has “ownership or like financial interest” in JHCP or any other Hopkins entity, Nilson wrote.

The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, noted that another city employee raised the same question in 2008 with the executive director of the city’s ethics board. Like Rawlings-Blake, that employee’s spouse worked for JHCP, but ethics director Avery Aisenstark concluded that the employee should recuse himself only from transactions involving JHCP. Nilson wrote that he came to the same conclusion as the ethics board director, who is not appointed
by the mayor.

Most of the contracts approved by the mayor were continuations of existing agreements. Many involved funding for HIV treatment and outreach efforts. Rawlings-Blake has said they had nothing to do with her husband’s job.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • Mary

    I don’t think a city lawyer should decide, that is a conflict of interest. It should be a lawyer who is not employed with the City of Baltimore since that is the same employer as the Mayor. Now if this is lawyer is not a Baltimore City employee than that is another story. I am relying on the title of the article that indicates that it is a City Lawyer. If so, than someone from the States Attorney’s office should be consulted and review the matter.

  • Marylander Rights

    We Need To Start Protesting, Not Sitting Around Complaining
    Our leaders don’t give a hoot about our welfare and so forth. If they did, there be fair taxes, finding ways to lower water and energy rates, help the poor who strugglging to keep their home and put food on the table, imporve education, creating new jobs, and not giving away our money to illegal immigrants that have no right to our benifits and pay for their education. The leaders claim they need money, yet give it away to non-native nor non-american people who live here and throughout America. But no one putting their foot down, only sitting back and complaining. Well words are words, action is action. You can put those words to use, and write your local and country leaders and hope for change, or do nothing and find yourself homeless and jobless? Then their is protesting in front of your leaders place of work. Being present is more effective than not being there.

  • pigeon

    I agree with you 100%. Until the matter is fully resolved the mayor does need to recuse herself from any further “approvals”. Sorry, but she did wrong! If there wasn’t any question of ethics there would not be is article!

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