Baltimore Mayor Under Ethics Investigation for Questionable Book Deals
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The Baltimore Board of Ethics is investigating Mayor Catherine Pugh to determine if she acted unethically in securing a book deal with the University of Maryland Medical System, for which she sat on the board of directors, the Baltimore Sun reports. As the controversy around the sale of Pugh’s Healthy Holly books intensifies, the embattled mayor has taken an indefinite leave of absence, citing health concerns. According to Pugh, her doctor has advised her to take more time to recover from a recent bout of pneumonia. “With the mayor’s health deteriorating, she feels as though she is unable to fulfill her obligations as mayor of Baltimore city,” a statement from the mayor’s office read in part. “To that end, Mayor Pugh will be taking an indefinite leave of absence to recuperate from this serious illness.” The Baltimore Sun reports:

In its disclosure to the city ethics board, Associated Black Charities said it paid $77,628 of the donations to Healthy Holly LLC and retained $9,552 — an amount the nonprofit said it has now decided to return to donors or contribute to another group.

Pugh last month amended several years of ethics disclosure forms filed with the state to report that she owns Healthy Holly LLC and that she sold 100,000 books to the University of Maryland Medical System over the past eight years for $500,000, while she was on the medical system’s board of directors. Her city ethics forms do not disclose her board seat in either 2016 or 2017.

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Earlier today, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who has called for a state investigation into the Healthy Holly book sales, stopped short of calling for Pugh’s resignation, still noting that it would be difficult for her to govern effectively.

“I am particularly concerned about the UMMS sale because it has significant continuing ties with the state and receives very substantial public funding,” Hogan said. City Council President Bernard C. “Jack”Young is serving as acting mayor during Pugh’s absence, something Councilman Ryan Dorsey said should be a permanent solution. “The city has been dysfunctional under this mayor’s leadership and while it seems this is being presented as a temporary change, I’m confident this is the direction things will go permanently and the city will be better off under the leadership of Mayor Young,” Dorsey said. Read more at the Baltimore Sun.