After plea, Holton traveling to Fla. on city's dime
The Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper reports:
Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen Holton, who pleaded no contest this week to a campaign finance violation, will attend a three-day conference in Palm Beach, Fla., next week at the city’s expense.
The city spending board voted Wednesday to approve the $1,100 trip for Holton, who will be attending the National Association of Counties conference in Palm Beach from October 13 to 15.
Holton pleaded no contest on Monday to a misdemeanor stemming from a deal she struck with developer Ronald Lipscomb and bread magnate and developer John Paterakis Sr.
Holton asked the two to pay $12,500 for a poll during her 2007 re-election campaign, circumventing campaign finance regulations and exceeding the $4,000 cap on donations from individuals during an election cycle.
A related and more serious bribery charge remains tied up in an appeal to the Court of Appeals.
Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who presides over the five-member Board of Estimates, abstained from the vote. His spokesman said Young normally abstains from votes involving the council members.
Spokesman Lester J. Davis said the trip was planned long before the plea deal was announced and that Young, who serves as leader of the council, “did not have a role in picking who went on this trip.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake voted in favor of the expenditure. Asked if Holton’s trip should be approved after her plea, Rawlings-Blake said “I don’t think the two are related.”
“She is a working councilwoman with a budget and the expenses are part of that budget,” Rawlings-Blake said.
Holton’s charges are to be paid from the “elected officials’ expense account.” The board approved an additional $36 per day for hotel costs and $40 per day for food in addition to the normal daily $164 subsistence rate for the location.