Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh Resigns Amid Children’s Book Scandal

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh

Enlarge Image Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh AP

She also sold 20,000 copies of the books to Kaiser Permanente for $114,000 from 2015 to 2018, and 10,000 copies to Associated Black Charities for almost $80,000 from 2011 and 2016. The Sun's reporting prompted a probe by the Office of the State Prosecutor, leading to Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS raids at City Hall, her homes and other locations.

Once the scandal became publicly known, Pugh ignored initial requests for her resignation.

Pugh, who initially defended the book deal, apologized at a March 28 press conference, calling the arrangement a "regrettable mistake". The city's entire Democratic establishment, with the sole exception of acting Mayor Bernard "Jack" Young, has been clamoring for her resignation. Soon after, however, she took a curiously timed leave of absence, which she attributed to an ongoing illness.

Maryland's Office of State Prosecutor and the city's ethics board have launched probes into whether any laws or ethics rules have been violated.

Official sources say the mayor's deals for Healthy Holly books - which promote healthy eating and exercise - are part of the inquiry, but there is "more to the picture".

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Earlier in the year, Pugh had taken $500,000 for the books from the University of Maryland Medical Systems.

UMMS is a private nonprofit for which Pugh served as a board member until mid-March when she resigned from the position.

The payouts for the books came at a time when the company was seeking to provide coverage to city employees.

The following week, it was revealed that other entities had paid for the books, including health insurer Kaiser Permanente, which made payments during the period it successfully sought a $48 million city contract.

Pugh had been defiant in resisting calls for her resignation.

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Despite the controversy, Pugh originally stated that she "fully intends to resume the duties of her office".

Others then came forward, including Maryland financier J.P. Grant who acknowledged writing a roughly $100,000 check to buy Pugh's "Health Holly" books but insisted he expected nothing in return.

Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement that "it was clear the mayor could no longer lead effectively". He has said that Pugh was so fragile physically and mentally that she was unable to make "major decisions". "The federal and state investigations must and will continue to uncover the facts", he said.

Someone who was convicted of stealing from and deceiving the citizens of her own needy city should never get another single vote of support or confidence.

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