Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh Resigns Following Children's Book Scandal

She had been on indefinite leave amid an investigation into money she reportedly made by getting companies with business ties to the city to buy her books.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (D) stepped down Thursday, after The Baltimore Sun uncovered earlier this year that she had made hundreds of thousands of dollars by getting companies with business ties to the city to buy her “Healthy Holly” children’s book series.

Pugh didn’t attend the press conference announcing her resignation. Instead, her attorney Steve Silverman read a statement on her behalf.

“Dear citizens of Baltimore, I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve as the 50th mayor,” the statement read. “It has been an honor and a privilege. Today I am submitting my written resignation to the Baltimore City Council. I am sorry for the harm I have caused to the image of the city of Baltimore.”

City Council President Jack Young becomes Baltimore’s acting mayor. According to Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, Young isn’t currently in the city, having left to attend a conference in Detroit. 

“Although I understand that this ordeal has caused real pain for many Baltimoreans, I promise that we will emerge from it more committed than ever to building a stronger Baltimore,” Young said in a statement Thursday. “Charm City is wonderful and full of resilient people who are working hard every day to move our City forward.”

Several top city and state lawmakers, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), had earlier urged Pugh to resign.

“Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead. For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign,” Hogan tweeted last week, hours after FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents raided Pugh’s home and office.

Silverman, Pugh’s lawyer, told local news reporters later that day that the mayor was not “physically and mentally sound and lucid enough to make appropriate decisions,” such as whether she would resign.

Pugh had been on indefinite leave since April 1, after being hospitalized with pneumonia. The same day, Hogan ordered the state prosecutor’s office to open an investigation into Pugh’s book sales.

Health giant Kaiser Permanente bought $114,000 worth of the books from 2015 to 2018, according to the Sun. The company also landed a major contract with the city during that time. 

Pugh also sold the books to the University of Maryland Medical System, of which she had been a longtime board member.

Pugh is the second consecutive Baltimore mayor to resign because of a scandal. She was elected in 2016 to succeed Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D). Rawlings-Blake decided not to seek reelection after being criticized for how she handled the death of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man who died while in police custody in 2015.