Welcome to the Ethics Board

** The July meeting of the Baltimore City Ethics Board has been cancelled.**


It’s an Election Year: How about those “suspicious” campaign contributions?

One thing crops up periodically in Citizen complaints to the Ethics Board:  Campaign donations. More specifically, campaign donations made by certain citizens to candidates or incumbent elected officials that seem to suggest shady business dealings or influence peddling.

A clear case for the Ethics Board, you’d think?

Not so fast….[Click here to read more]


Ethics Board issues guidance to the Fair Election Fund commission: Can individual FEF Commissioners donate money or volunteer time to campaigns that receive FEF funding?

The Board determined that the Ethics Law does not override a Commissioner’s First-Amendment rights to make “political contributions” of time and money to campaigns/candidates who receive public funds through the Fair Election Fund. However, accepting paid employment by such a campaign would create a prohibited economic “interest” within the scope of the Law.

Click here to read the full opinion


Court Confirms Ethics Board’s Position regarding the “Donor List”

“The Baltimore Brew and The Baltimore Sun are wrong when they argue that ‘Sections 4-304 to -342 set forth a number of exemptions upon which a custodian may rely to deny inspection of public records.’ Respondent’s Mem. at 6 (emphasis added). All of these sections, including § 4-336, are mandatory and require a custodian to deny inspection of either a record or information that is included within the provision. The custodian has no discretion to disclose information covered by a mandatory denial if the custodian believes there is special public interest in the information or that a person in interest would not be affected adversely by Disclosure.

– The Hon. Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill, associate judge for the Baltimore City Circuit Court.

On March 15, 2023, in Petition of the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, for Judicial Review of the Decision of the Maryland Public Information Act Compliance Board in the Matter of Fern Shen, Complainant v. Baltimore City Board of Ethics, Custodian (Case No. PIACB 23-31), the Baltimore City Circuit Court, (the Hon. Judge Fletcher-Hill presiding) confirmed the Board’s position that, under the MPIA, this list of “specific contributions made by private individuals to a private trust through a private web site is information concerning the contributors’ ‘financial . . . activities’ and therefore is ‘information about the finances of an individual’ that the City Board of Ethics was required to withhold from public disclosure.”

In plain language: The Court agreed that State Law clearly prohibits the publication of the information sought by the local media outlets. The Board, as the custodian of that information, has no discretion to decide otherwise.

Click here to read the full opinion


Read the 2023 Annual Report Here

Read the Ethics Board's 2023 Annual Report here.

The Baltimore City Board of Ethics is an independent body comprised of five members that oversee Baltimore’s Public Ethics Law, contained in Article 8 of the City Code. The Ethics Law applies to all Baltimore City officials and employees.  It ensures that officials and employees serve the public with fairness and independence by guarding against conflicts of interest and other types of improper actions connected with City employment.  The Ethics Law also governs lobbyist registration and activity in the City. 

In April 2020, the City Council voted for Baltimore’s Inspector General to become the ex officio Executive Director of the Ethics Board, effective October 10, 2020. The IG has designated a Director and Administrator to assist the Board in day-to-day operations—the first time the Board has enjoyed full-time assistance. The Board and its staff are committed to carrying out all of the Board’s important functions, including investigating ethics complaints, promoting awareness of the Ethics Law, and answering all ethics-related questions from City officials, employees, and citizens.