BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Just days from being sworn in as a member of Maryland’s House of Delegates, a former campaign aide for Mayor Pugh faces charges he violated election law.
The mayor tells our Media Partner, Baltimore Sun, she’s looking at her campaign finances to make sure everything is above board. A citizen group says they’ve complained about other suspicious donations, but the state prosecutor has given no indication any more indictments are coming.
“It was a surprise that it took this long,” says Hassan Giordano, with Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections.
Hassan Giordano’s activist group raised alarm about voter and campaign finance irregularities in the last mayoral election. He says they brought their allegations to the state prosecutor’s office and believes that lead to the indictment of pugh aide, Gary Brown, Jr.
“I don’t think this is the end of the road. We know from our investigation, Mr. Gary Brown is really just a minnow in a big pond with very big fish,” says Giordano.
The state prosecutor alleges that Brown provided money to his mother, brother, and stepfather, who then donated it to Catherine Pugh’s Campaign for mayor.
In all, Brown is alleged to have given them $18,000 thousand dollars in contributions, far beyond the $6,000 dollar maximum per person allowed under state law.
That’s in addition to the $300 WJZ found he personally donated to Pugh, through a search of financial records.
‘It’s a way to get around donors being able to give the max, and so we included all of this detail by detail,” says Giordano.
The state prosecutors have been investigating a complaint about Pugh’s campaign since last March regarding $66,000 dollars in campaign checks that bounced.
“The more important aspect of a case like this is it sheds light on things that may have been going on in the campaign that were not above board,” says Lawyer Adam Ruther, with Rosenberg, Martin, and Greenberg.
Where did Brown get the money? The state prosecutor won’t say.
“The state prosecutor doesn’t have to trace the money any further back then Mr. Brown,” says Ruther.
The mayor says she’s saddened by the allegations — Brown has not commented.
The investigation puts his political future in doubt. His swearing into the House of Delegates has been cancelled.
“Everybody wants to turn the page from Freddie Gray, the riots, everything that’s happened in Baltimore. Unfortunately, this is taking two steps back,” says Giordano.
Brown is the sole person indicted. The state prosecutor does not comment on ongoing investigations.
The mayor noted in a prepared statement that Brown is presumed innocent while the investigations continue.