A group of well-known Baltimore area legal experts held a news conference today to respond to what they call attacks on Dr. Keiffer Mitchell, Sr.’s reputation.
Dr. Mitchell had served as mayoral campaign treasurer for his son, Councilman Keiffer Mitchell, Jr. until recently.
Reports came out late last week that said Dr. Mitchell used thousands of dollars from the younger Mitchell’s campaign on personal expenses, including a hotel stay for his wife and home repairs.
“We have had a chance to look at this stuff involving Dr. Mitchell for several days now and we are unanimous that Dr. Mitchell did nothing wrong and broke no campaign laws whatsoever,” said Billy Murphy, Jr. “We wanted to reassure the public of that because of the nature of the coverage and its innuendos made it look like he had something wrong.”
Murphy called Dr. Mitchell a good man, who until the media reports came out, had a solid reputation as a civil rights activist, public servant, and doctor.
“The law is not as it has been stated in the media – the law says as long as the treasurer spent the money with the intention to benefit the campaign, it’s a lawful expenditure – the law is very clear about that and all the money Dr. Mitchell spent was intended to benefit the campaign, but the question is how to allocate it between those things that were purely personal and those that were not,” he said.
Some of the other legal professionals involved in today’s reaction include A. Dwight Pettit, Neal Janey, Arthur Frank, Warren Brown, and Professor Larry Gibson. Murphy added the group reflects about 300 years of experience in political campaigns stretching back to the 60s.
“We’re thoroughly familiar with campaign finance law,” he said. “It was our opinion that Dr. Mitchell is the victim of some innuendos, which are just not factually correct.”
Murphy said he has spent a lot of time with Dr. Mitchell since last week and after talking to him and others, felt strongly enough to defend him on the issue. Murphy would not release details about his conversations with the elder Mitchell.
Mitchell, Jr. said last Friday that his father has repaid the campaign and the campaign has since hired another treasurer.
“The summary is we don’t believe he did anything wrong, period, end of story,” Murphy said.