Despite calls for her resignation, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh says she plans to return
Caught up in accusations over a book deal and questionable payments from entities linked to the city, the mayor is now facing calls from city council members to step down permanently
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh is defiantly rebuking a unanimous request by the Baltimore City Council to step down amid a scandal involving sales of her children’s book to entities associated with the city.
Pugh responded to the two-sentence letter sent by 14 council members that urged her to step down from her position, The Baltimore-Sun reports. The embattled Mayor on Monday said she “fully intends” to resume office after battling pneumonia.
Currently, Bernard C. “Jack” Young is serving as Acting Mayor.
The letter was sent at 7 a.m. on Monday morning, along with copies forwarded to Young, City Solicitor Andre Davis, Pugh’s chief of staff Bruce Williams, as well as Baltimore’s senators and delegates in the General Assembly.
“The entire membership of the Baltimore City Council believes that it is not in the best interest of the City of Baltimore for you to continue to serve as Mayor,” the council members wrote to Pugh. “We urge you to tender your resignation, effective immediately.”
According to reports, Kaiser Permanente health consortium 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 book sales only and not personal profit.
An investigation is now underway by the state prosecutor. Pugh took a leave of absence, citing health issues as the reason.
On Monday, Pugh’s office released a statement about her intentions to return.
“Mayor Pugh has taken a leave to focus on recovering from pneumonia and regaining her health,” the statement read. “She fully intends to resume the duties of her office and continuing her work on behalf of the people and the City of Baltimore.”
Young said he doesn’t plan to stay planted in the position. Given the circumstances, he said, it would be difficult for Pugh to return and govern effectively.
“Her ability to govern would be very difficult,” Young said. “Let’s face it: How would she get anything done?”
“She’s still the mayor until she comes back or she resigns,” he said.
Young said it was an unprecedented request for a City Council to ask a mayor to step down.