Reporting Rochelle Ritchie
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The investigation continues into whether Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s acceptance of free tickets to city events is ethical behavior.
Rochelle Ritchie has the mayor’s defense.
The mayor argues the city has an agreement with 1st Mariner Arena that allows them so many free tickets a year and it’s something mayors have done in the past.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake shared her side after WJZ’s media partner, the Baltimore Sun, exposed potential ethical wrongdoing by her office after they found she received hundreds of free tickets to city events at 1st Mariner Arena. The city’s ethics board is now investigating.
“I welcome the review of the longstanding policies regarding the Baltimore Arena,” she said.
Reading a statement, the mayor said the tickets are not paid for with taxpayer dollars and the practice is not out of the ordinary.
“A practice that goes back several decades and several administrations,” she said.
According to the Baltimore Sun’s investigation, the mayor–along with her family and staff–were given hundreds of tickets throughout the year to sold-out events for shows by hip hop icons like Rihanna and Jay-Z. Most recently, she got tickets for Cirque du Soleil.
Tickets for such events can cost hundreds of dollars; they mayor’s office got them for free.
“Baltimore, like cities across the country, provides hundreds of complimentary tickets to hard-working employees,” she said.
But some think the giveaways need to stop.
“Everybody in the world pays for their tickets and she should, too. That’s not supposed to be one of the perks of government,” said Michael Meade.
Others take the mayor’s side.
“Nobody’s actually losing anything. We’re just sharing an experience,” said David Johnczak.
The mayor’s confident once the smoke clears, this will be much ado about nothing.
“None of this is new or out of the ordinary,” Rawlings-Blake said.
The ethics board has requested a copy of the city’s operating agreement with 1st Mariner Arena.
The issue will continue to be looked into at next month’s ethics meeting.