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Tipsheet

How A Book Deal Sunk The Mayor Of Baltimore

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Well, I guess we should call this children’s book-gate. Catherine Pugh sent a letter announcing her resignation as mayor of Baltimore. The embattled soon-to-be-ex-mayor has been the subject of a federal corruption investigation concerning her “Healthy Holly” book series. According to NBC News, Pugh earned hundreds of thousands of dollars selling the books as part of a health plan that has a working relationship with the city of Baltimore and the University of Maryland medical system. Pugh sat on the medical board (via NBC News):

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Embattled Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who has been away from the job amid a corruption scandal centered around a children’s book, announced her resignation through her lawyer on Thursday.

"Dear citizens of Baltimore, I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve as the fiftieth mayor. It has been an honor and a privilege," the statement read by her lawyer Thursday said. "Today I am submitting my written resignation to the Baltimore City Council."

"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," Pugh's statement continued. "Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward." 

[…]

Last week, federal agents searched the homes and City Hall offices of Pugh, who is under state investigation over hundreds of thousands of dollars earned selling her "Healthy Holly" series of children’s books to a health plan that does business with the city and a University of Maryland medical system she once helped oversee.

Pugh has taken a leave of absence since April when this scandal became public. Fox News had more on the dynamics of this $500,000 deal last month. Calls for Pugh’s resignation were expected and bipartisan in nature Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic State Comptroller Peter Franchot called for her to step down. It was reportedly delayed since Pugh has been dealing with a serious case of pneumonia: 

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In a letter … Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, called on the state prosecutor to investigate allegations of self-dealing by Pugh. State Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat, urged the mayor to step down immediately.

Hogan and Franchot's calls came hours after health care firm Kaiser Permanente disclosed to The Baltimore Sun that between 2015 and 2018, it paid $114,000 for roughly 20,000 copies of Pugh's self-published "Healthy Holly" children's book series.

Since 2011, Pugh has received $500,000 for selling the books to the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), The Associated Press reported. The $4 billion hospital network, one of the largest private employers in the state, reportedly paid Pugh for 100,000 copies of her books between 2011 and 2018.

Pugh, who sat on the system's board since 2001, became Baltimore's mayor in 2016. The next year, Baltimore's spending board, which is controlled by the mayor, awarded a $48 million contract to the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States Inc. Kaiser previously held that contract.

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