Ex-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Joins Airbnb as a Paid Adviser

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After twice pushing for higher taxes and tighter rules for Airbnb rentals in Baltimore, former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has accepted a paid gig with the company on an advisory board comprised of former city mayors.

Rawlings-Blake said in a statement through Airbnb that she’s “eager to work with Mayors and other electeds around the world to ensure cities can benefit from Airbnb.”

“In my six years as Mayor of the City of Baltimore, I saw firsthand the positive impact that tourism and visitors have on a community. While I have left office, promoting economic development that helps the middle class remains one of my top priorities.”

The former one-term mayor hasn’t responded to a request for comment from Baltimore Fishbowl sent to her Roland Park-based consulting firm, SRB & Associates.

Only two years ago, Rawlings-Blake’s administration pushed to levy a 9.5 percent excise tax on Airbnb rentals, the same rate applied to hotel bookings in the city. Officials had also planned to introduce new requirements for Airbnb operators, such as clearing multiple inspections and a formal permitting process.

The Airbnb hotel tax bill failed in the City Council in 2015, and again in 2016. The Sun reports members had planned to take it up again this year, but Council President Jack Young, a lead sponsor of the measure, pulled it before it could be introduced.

Rawlings-Blake joins former U.S. mayors from Houston and Philadelphia, as well as international ex-mayors from Rome and Adelaide, who were appointed to the board last summer.

She previously accepted a position as a political analyst for ABC News last winter after providing her commentary on Election Night. She launched her consulting firm last December.

The city’s newest former mayor took to Instagram this morning in an Airbnb-branded hoodie, saying she “realized I’m already repping for my new gig” when she went to buy coffee.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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