Baltimore mayor resigns amid book controversy

Catherine Pugh resigned as Baltimore's mayor Thursday amid a controversy that she enriched herself by selling books to companies and organizations doing business with the city. Photo via UPI

May 2 (UPI) — Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned Thursday amid a growing scandal over the sale of self-published books and her relationships with firms doing business with the city.

The resignation is effective immediately, said Pugh’s attorney, who read a statement at a press conference Thursday in her absence.

“Dear citizens of Baltimore I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve as the 50th mayor. It has been an honor and privilege,” Pugh said in a statement ready by attorney Steven Silverman. “I’m sorry for the harm that I have caused to the image of the city of Baltimore and the credibility of the office of the mayor. Baltimore deserve a mayor who can move our great city forward.”

She’s the second mayor in the last 10 years to leave in connection with a criminal investigation.

Pugh has been dodging controversy and repeated calls from fellow City Council members to resign for several weeks, but she remained determined to continue working for the city despite poor health.

She was accused of selling copies of her book, Healthy Holly, to the University of Maryland Medical System while still a member of the board. She was paid $500,000 for the books, which were to be distributed through the Baltimore school system. She resigned from the board in mid-March.

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It was also revealed that she sold books to health insurance company Kaiser Permanente at the same time the company successfully sought a $48 million contract with Baltimore.

Associated Black Charities also bought $30,000 books while making a deal with the city to manage a $13 million youth fund. In total, she received $800,000 over the years from selling the book.

She also disclosed that 40,000 of the books UMMS paid for were never produced. The book tells the story of a young black girl who promotes the benefits of nutrition and exercise.

On April 1, she announced she would take an indefinite leave of absence for medical reasons but vowed to return to work.

Last week, federal agents raided her two houses and City Hall office where they uncovered boxes of evidence. IRS agents also were part of the raid. Maryland’s state prosecutor opened an investigation into the book sales.

Following the raid, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said she should resign.

“Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust,” Hogan said in a statement last month. “She is clearly not fit to lead.”

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