Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has announced plans to take an indefinite leave of absence as the scandal surrounding the sale of her “self-dealing” book intensifies.
As reported by the Baltimore Sun, Kaiser Permanente paid Pugh more than $100,000 to buy 20,000 copies of her Healthy Holly illustrated paperbacks for children between 2015 and 2018.
Meanwhile, the nonprofit Associated Black Charities reportedly collected nearly $90,000 from five separate entities to buy and distribute 10,000 copies of Pugh’s books, of which she profited $80,000, the report states.
Pugh has previously said that the $500,000 she was paid by University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) for 100,000 books represented books sales only and not personal profit.
Gov. Larry Hogan addressed the matter in a letter to the state prosecutor released Monday, noting his concerns about the alleged $500,000 sale “because it has significant continuing ties with the State and receives very substantial public funding.”
Maryland’s Comptroller Peter Franchot called on Pugh to resign, describing her lucrative self-publishing books deals as “brazen, cartoonish corruption.”
The Mayor has to resign – now. The people of Baltimore are facing too many serious challenges, as it is, to also to deal with such brazen, cartoonish corruption from their chief executive. https://t.co/00VBd5FbyB
— Comptroller Peter Franchot (@peterfranchot) April 1, 2019
In a Monday tweet, Franchot wrote: “The Mayor has to resign — now.”
When Pugh’s attorney was asked why she previously told a reporter that only UMMS had bought books, Steven Silverman, could only stress that Kaiser and Associated Black Charities did not purchased books UMMS had already acquired.
“I’m not able to give a rundown of every sale to every entity,” Silverman said.
In a Monday statement, Mayor Pugh’s office noted that she has been “advised by her physicians that she needs to take time to recover and focus on her health.” The statement went on to say that she feels unable to fulfill her obligations as mayor due to deteriorating health.
Pugh became mayor in 2016. The next year, she reportedly awarded a $48 million contract to the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic.
“In hindsight, this arrangement with the University of Maryland Medical System was a regrettable mistake,” Pugh said at City Hall. “I am deeply sorry for any lack of confidence or disappointment that this initiative may have caused among Baltimore city residents, friends and colleagues.”