While other Baltimore elected officials used the 2022 off-cycle year to build their campaign finance war chests, City Council President Nick Mosby reported just one $500 donation since January. Neither his ActBlue donation page nor his campaign website was active Monday afternoon.
Although observers inside and outside of City Hall have wondered if the first-term council president will run again in 2024, the Democrat said the quiet period is consistent with his campaign strategy, which is to ramp up fundraising and events closer to Election Day — a method he said is not in alignment with the traditional structure and power players of the city.
“I’ve never carried really large war chests. I’ve never given any indication I’m not running for this seat,” he said. “I’m not focused on anything but the job at hand.”
By contrast, City Council members Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer, Eric Costello and Zeke Cohen and Mayor Brandon Scott have more than $225,000 in campaign accounts.
This year has been a tumultuous one for Mosby. His wife, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, was charged by federal prosecutors in January with two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements. Her trial was due to begin last month, but was delayed until March. Council President Mosby has not been charged.
Marilyn Mosby, who was seeking a third term, finished third in the July primary.
Nick Mosby’s proposal to revive Baltimore’s famed dollar house program, which he touted as his term’s signature piece of legislation, failed to earn the approval of his council peers. He said he is working to bring the bill back before the council: “I’m working to undo some of the draconian things that have contributed to the ills of the city,” Mosby said, arguing the bill would make housing more available and affordable.
In May, Baltimore’s ethics board ruled that Mosby violated City Hall’s ethics ordinance by indirectly soliciting money for a legal defense fund for him and his wife. Mosby has said he is completely perplexed by the finding and submitted an appeal. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21.
The only donation he recorded this year was from July, when the Constellation Employee Political Action Committee sent the Democrat $500. Constellation is Baltimore-headquartered energy company, formerly owned by Exelon.
From mid-January 2021 to mid-January 2022, the council president reported $61,505 in contributions — more than 120 times what he raised this year.
Although neither Scott nor Comptroller Bill Henry campaigned aggressively this year, both added to their cash reserves. From mid-January to Aug. 23, the latest date that campaign finance data is available, the Democrats netted $58,880 and $25,750 in contributions, respectively. Scott reports having over a quarter of a million dollars of cash on hand, while Henry reports having just under $15,000.
Mosby has reported having just under $18,000 of cash on hand, a balance that differs from the $4,424.44 he reports having in the bank. The discrepancy of about $14,000 goes back several campaign finance reports, the earliest of which was filed in mid-January.
Sophia Silbergeld, a partner at the political consulting firm Adeo Advocacy, said that such discrepancies rarely indicate malfeasance and tend to occur during election years, when campaigns receive donations and spend money at a rapid clip.
“It’s usually that campaigns don’t have the money to pay someone to do it [document campaign spending] professionally,” she said. “It’s a lot to keep up with for a civilian treasurer tasked with the books: a ledger line is missed or something is added incorrectly, and people don’t catch it.”
Both Scott’s and Henry’s most recent reports list slight discrepancies, both of about $1,500.
Meanwhile, some council members have assembled a war chest that eclipses those of Mosby, Henry and Scott. As of mid-January, Costello reported having $322,577 on hand. Schleifer has nearly $300,000 on hand, according to campaign finance records filed in August. Cohen is close behind the mayor with about $228,000.
Another round of campaign finance records are due Oct. 28.