The absent mayor of Baltimore, MD, Catherine Pugh (D), resigned May 2 in a letter to City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young (D). Pugh’s office, home, and other addresses associated with her were raided the previous week by FBI and IRS agents amid allegations over book-sales. In one case, thousands of copies of Pugh’s children’s book, Healthy Holly, were purchased by an insurance company seeking a contract to provide health coverage to Baltimore’s city employees.
A year after the book purchase, the company, Kaiser Permanente, was awarded a $48 million contract by the city of Baltimore. Other entities and individuals have also been caught up in the alleged pay-to-play scheme, including the University of Maryland Medical System, of which Pugh was a board member until March 2019.
Pugh and several aides had been on paid leave, while three others were recently fired by Young. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) had called upon the former mayor to resign, saying “Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead.” Several Democrats had also demanded that the mayor step down and the state’s accountant used the phrase “brazen, cartoonish corruption” to describe the book-sales scheme.
In a statement ready by Pugh’s attorney, Steven Silverman – whose office had also been raided by the FBI – Pugh said, “I am 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 deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward.” At this point, Pugh has not been charged with a crime.
Young now succeeds Pugh as the city’s Mayor. “Baltimore City can now begin to move forward,” Governor Hogan said. “The state pledges its full support to incoming Mayor Jack Young and to city leaders during this time of transition.”
Pugh is still the subject of an ethics probe, as well as state and federal investigations. Her resignation, though not entirely surprising, was not considered a sure thing. As recently as a few weeks ago – after the mayor took leave, citing poor health – a spokesman told CBS Baltimore: “[Pugh] 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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