Baltimore Mayor Going On Indefinite Leave As Political Scandal Grows Over ‘Self-Dealing’ Book Sales

Written by Ann Brown
Baltimore mayor
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh walks on the Maryland House of Delegates chamber floor before Gov. Larry Hogan’s annual State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

While Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has officially taken a leave of absence due to a bout of pneumonia, many in the city say her temporary departure has more to do with the scandal over allegations of “self-dealing” arrangements to sell a children’s book series she authored.

Pugh was paid $700,000 for a self-published book and now the Baltimore City Council wants her out and has issued a letter saying so.

“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. We urge you to tender your resignation, effective immediately,” the two-sentence letter read.

Fourteen members of the 15-member council signed  The only member who did not sign was Bernard C. “Jack” Young, the council’s president who has been serving as the “ex officio Mayor of Baltimore City.”

But Pugh, whose term expires in 2020, has no intention of stepping down, according to her spokesman, James Bentley. Bentley said Pugh  “fully intends to resume the duties of her office and continuing her work on behalf of the people and the City of Baltimore.”

However, Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan wrote to the Office of the State Prosecutor seeking an investigation into the sales of thousands of Pugh’s book, “Healthy Holly,” to the University of Maryland Medical System during the time she was a member of its board.

UMMS spent $500,000 to fund the purchase of some 100,000 books from Pugh’s company Healthy Holly LLC.

“Pugh also received about $114,000 from Kaiser Permanente for some 20,000 books from 2015 to 2018, according to the health care provider. Kaiser Permanente said it delivered the books to back-to-school fairs, elementary schools, communities of faith and early childhood education and care centers,” CNN reported.

Associated Black Charities also spent approximately $80,000 between 2011 and 2016 to buy about 10,000 copies of Pugh’s books.

Pugh did apologize for doing something “to upset the people” and returned $100,000 to the medical system. She also canceled her book deal as well as announced she had resigned from the hospital’s board.