Chris Tonjes, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology, resigned Monday.
“While the decision to resign is a difficult one, I believe it is in the best interests of a city that I have grown to love so deeply,” Tonjes wrote in a letter addressed to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and released by his attorney. The letter was verified by Tonjes attorney Steven H. Levin of Levin & Curlett.
This comes two years after the city’s last CIO Rico Singleton also resigned amid controversy.
Tonjes, who was named city CTO in summer 2012, had been on administrative leave since March in connection with a fraud investigation, stemmed by allegations that contractors were being paid by Tonjes’ office for work that wasn’t done. He has not been specifically named in any ethics violations.
Deputy CTO Jerome Mullen has been acting CTO for the city since Tonjes was placed on leave.
“Jerome has been a very capable partner these last several weeks while the Inspector General conducts his work to determine if there was any fraud or abuse within MOIT,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. “Under Jerome’s leadership, I am confident MOIT can move forward in supporting several priority initiatives for my Administration, including the modernization of our Police Department to help make Baltimore City safer, as well as improving overall efficiency across city government to continue saving taxpayers millions of dollars.”
In the letter, Tonjes denied any wrongdoing but wrote that he was “unwilling to become a distraction” to his department’s work.
“Neither my career accomplishments, nor my unblemished record of public service, nor the undisputed fact that I have not engaged in any wrongdoing have brought this never-ending investigation to a close,” he wrote. “Although I have offered on many occasions to meet with the Inspector General, I have yet to be interviewed. I cannot compel the Inspector General to meet with me, nor can I force him to conclude that any allegations of misconduct are completely false, which they are.”
In the letter, Tonjes also touted his office’s accomplishments, which include:
- revamping the city’s 911 system
- developing a new financial model to allow agencies to replace computers every four years instead of every 10
- consolidating the Baltimore Police Department’s email system with the rest of the city government’s email system
- creating a website for ethics disclosure forms