Ethics board inquiry into mayor's use of free tickets is delayed

Mayor's office provides documents to panel, which will consider next month

September 11, 2012|By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's office turned over numerous documents Monday about her use of free 1st Mariner Arena tickets — but too late for the city's ethics board to consider them at its meeting Tuesday.

Avery Aisenstark, a city employee who serves as the panel's director, said he received a large stack of documents from the mayor's office but did not have time to make copies for board members, delaying the panel's inquiry into the mayor's use of the tickets.

"Once we have all the information, we will make a determination as to our next moves," said board chair Linda "Lu" Pierson.

Aisenstark said the documents include the contract between the arena and the city, lists of people who received the free tickets and documents soliciting proposals for new management for the arena. He said many of the documents are the same as those turned over to the news media last month.

The board last month launched an inquiry, citing concerns about the distribution of free tickets to the mayor's family and staff. The Baltimore Sun reported that Rawlings-Blake's office received hundreds of tickets each year to events at the city-owned arena. The mayor, accompanied by relatives and top aides, used the free tickets to attend several sold-out concerts, including shows featuring Rihanna and Jay-Z.

The mayor's office has defended its use of the tickets, noting that previous mayors also attended arena events at no charge under the terms of the city's agreement with arena operators. Officials said the mayor's office often donates tickets to events, including Baltimore Blast soccer games and the circus, to children and community groups. Her spokesman has said there is "zero evidence that any part of this is new or out of the ordinary."

City Solicitor George Nilson, whose office responded to the ethics board's inquiry, did not reply to a request for comment Tuesday.

The ethics board next meets Oct. 11.

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