POLITICS

Baltimore City Council Urges Mayor To Resign Over Children's Book Sales

Mayor Catherine Pugh said she intends to return to work after a leave of absence.

The entire Baltimore City Council on Monday urged Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh to resign amid mounting pressure over sales of children’s books Pugh authored and sold to government partners.

Her response, essentially: No thanks.

“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 Monday morning memo reads. “We urge you to tender your resignation, effective immediately.”

Pugh sold at least 140,000 copies of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books between 2011 and 2018, for which she was paid more than $600,000. 

Buyers included health care provider Kaiser Permanente, who paid for 20,000 of the books (worth $114,000) from 2015 to 2018, including while bidding for a $48 million contract with the city. The contract ― which was approved ― was overseen by a board controlled by Pugh.

Kaiser told HuffPost the book deal was part of an ongoing program to buy and distribute health-focused literature, which it’s done since 2013. The company has also offered a health plan to the city since 1986, predating Pugh.

Pugh also sold 20,000 books to Baltimore City Public Schools. Someone with knowledge of the shipments told The Baltimore Sun the schools have 8,700 of the “unsolicited” books still in storage and can’t verify they ever received the full shipment.

In March, Mayor Pugh resigned from the board of directors of the University of Maryland Medical System after the Sun uncovered she’d also sold UMMS 100,000 books ― worth $500,000.

Last Monday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) asked state prosecutors to investigate the “deeply disturbing allegations” concerning Pugh.

Citing her health, Pugh has been on a leave of absence since early last week. She doubled down on that explanation for her continued absence in a followup statement Monday in which she rejected the council’s call for her to resign.

“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.” 

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