It’s no secret Thiru Vignarajah has long sought power in Charm City — he has run for office unsuccessfully four times now. Vignarajah says becoming mayor would be his dream job, but what hasn’t been known, until now, is that Vignarajah previously had eyes on a different high-level position in the city: Baltimore police commissioner.

On Wednesday, Vignarajah dropped out of the mayor’s race and endorsed former mayor Sheila Dixon’s campaign. Current Mayor Brandon Scott’s campaign said Vignarajah offered his endorsement to them in exchange for a top posting in the school system or the police department. Vignarajah deflected Wednesday when asked about the offer.

“That’s a question for the mayor to discuss,” he said. “I don’t talk about private conversations.”

But in 2015, Vignarajah tried to persuade another mayoral candidate to fire Baltimore’s top cop and install him, should she win.

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Then a deputy attorney general, Vignarajah lobbied Elizabeth Embry to make him police commissioner if she won the 2016 mayoral election, text messages reviewed by The Baltimore Banner show. Embry came in third in the primary with 11.7% of the vote. Now a state delegate, she said she never seriously considered him for the role. Vignarajah did not immediately return a messages and calls seeking comment.

In one September 2015 message to a former colleague who did not support the idea of his being Baltimore police commissioner, Vignarajah voiced his displeasure with the colleague’s lack of enthusiasm for the idea while acknowledging that he would be an unpopular choice among city residents.

”I am plagued with plenty of doubts about doing something crazy like being police commissioner and literally hundreds of people will protest me publicly if that were to happen,” he wrote in the previously unreported messages. “I don’t need you to lead them or remind me why that’s crazy.”

Vignarajah worked as a prosecutor in both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, but has never been a police officer.

In another message, Vignarajah said it was “such bullshit” someone would directly suggest to Embry that she keep then-Police Commissioner Kevin Davis in the role instead of picking him.

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“I don’t give a shit why you think I’d be bad at [being police commissioner],” he wrote. “But those are reasons you can privately share with me.”

Vignarajah has been accused of fostering a hostile and abusive work environment toward his subordinates in both the state’s attorney and attorney general’s office. In other messages regarding his desire to be Embry’s police commissioner, Vignarajah said that the colleague’s lack of support was “mean-spirited” and that he was frustrated they had not apologized for opting to voice their opposition to the idea instead of remaining silent.

Vignarajah has since apologized for some of his previous behavior, saying that he was battling “demons” at the time.

Now, Vignarajah has been accused of once again lobbying for a high-level role in the city, dangling his endorsement in order to get it. Polling shows him squarely in third place.

Asked at a news conference if Dixon and he had made any agreements on future City Hall employment, Vignarajah demurred: “The only deal that we made is to commit to seeing Baltimore become the city that we know it can be.”

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However, a campaign staffer for the Scott campaign said Vignarajah first approached the mayor last week to discuss the possibility of an endorsement in exchange for Scott to consider making him either police commissioner or CEO of city schools.

”That brings us to this morning [Wednesday] at 8 a.m., when the mayor and Thiru sat down and the mayor said he could absolutely not do that and since his name is on the ballot, he should consider staying in,” the campaign staffer said. ”Thiru’s endorsement was for sale, and Sheila Dixon cut a deal to buy it,” they added. “Whether she agreed to one or two of those positions, I don’t know. But we know what the price was when it came to us.”

Vignarajah did not confirm or deny at Wednesday’s news conference whether he met with Scott hours before the Dixon endorsement or whether they had conversations about the two positions. Dixon did not answer the questions about employment.

The mayor has direct hiring power over the police commissioner; the City Council must sign off on the appointment.

The CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools is appointed by the school board. The board is primarily appointed by the mayor; it also consists of two members who are elected by Baltimore voters and one city schools student elected by their peers.

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