Baltimore mayor takes indefinite leave amid scandal and calls for resignation
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has begun her third week in an indefinite leave of absence as information continues to emerge about a book-dealing scandal in which she was involved.
Pugh announced on April 1 that she would be taking an indefinite leave of absence from her position as mayor to focus on recovering from a recent case of pneumonia, Fox News reports. City Council President Jack Young has taken over the responsibilities in her position.
A week earlier, Pugh defended a deal in which she has received $500,000 since 2011 from selling books in her self-published children’s book series “Healthy Holly” to the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), CBS Baltimore reports. Pugh had filed disclosure forms with erroneous information, and she had previously failed to disclose her position with the system in city ethics forms.
Earlier in the day that Pugh stepped down, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan requested that the state prosecutor investigate allegations of Pugh self-dealing books, Fox reports.
That day, the Baltimore Sun revealed that health care company Kaiser Permanente and nonprofit Associated Black Charities had paid Pugh nearly $200,000 to buy and distribute about 30,000 copies of her books.
The Sun also revealed that, while serving as a Maryland state senator and receiving payments from UMMS, Pugh had sponsored multiple bills affecting Maryland hospitals, including some that would have benefitted UMMS. The Maryland legislature passed three of the bills.
Pugh recently returned $100,000 to UMMS and canceled her book deal, according to CNN.
On April 8, 14 of Maryland’s 15 council members called for Pugh to tender her resignation, CNN reports. Pugh Spokesman James Bentley issued a statement that day saying that she would serve out the end of her term, which expires in 2020.
Young was the only member who did not sign the document calling for Pugh’s resignation. As he became acting mayor of Baltimore, he said he hoped to be a “stabilizing force” in the city, according to CBS.
“Baltimore is strong and resilient, and the team that we have here, we’re going to move the city forward. I’m just asking for trust and faith and prayers, so we can get the job done,” Young said, per CBS.