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Inspector general wants info on Baltimore City Council board memberships

Baltimore’s inspector general has requested city council members to provide information about all boards they serve on, according to a City Hall source.

The request for details about boards of companies and nonprofits on which city lawmakers serve follows the controversy from disclosures that Mayor Catherine Pugh received $500,000 in payments from the University of Maryland Medical System, an organization whose board she served on, for her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books.

Earlier this month Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming said she cannot confirm or deny ongoing investigations, but the requests sent to city lawmakers indicates her office is looking into relationships between various boards and city elected officials.

While some of the information may be publicly available, not all of the boards lawmakers serve on may have been disclosed in ethics findings. Baltimore elected officials are only required to disclose of those they serve on if the entities do business with the city.

While Cumming couldn’t address potential investigations, she did acknowledge her office’s ability to probe alleged financial misconduct, waste and fraud by city employees. After city voters approved a charter amendment last year, the inspector general now has subpoena power.

“We are the people’s independent watchdog,” Cumming said.

Her staff, she said, is always pursuing tips about malfeasance by city employees. All tips, including email and calls to her office’s hotline, Cumming said, can be sent anonymously.

Any report from an investigation from her office would be published online and in the case of potential criminal misconduct turned over to the appropriate agency.

It’s unclear if the requests go beyond the city council. A spokesman for ex-officio Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young did not respond to a question as to whether Young received a similar request.

Young took over as Baltimore’s acting mayor on April 2 after Pugh stepped aside to recover from illness. It’s unclear if Pugh, who faces investigations into her financial dealings as well as calls to resign, will return to fulfill her four-year term that started in December of 2016. Several days ago, through a spokesman, Pugh said that she intended to return to her job, but she and her aides have been silent on the matter recently.

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