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Baltimore Mayor Resigns In Wake Of Book Sale Scandal

  The mayor of the troubled eastern US city of Baltimore, who faced allegations of corruption over sales of her self-published children’s books to companies … Continue reading Baltimore Mayor Resigns In Wake Of Book Sale Scandal


Catherine Pugh
Catherine Pugh

 

The mayor of the troubled eastern US city of Baltimore, who faced allegations of corruption over sales of her self-published children’s books to companies with ties to state and local government, resigned Thursday, her lawyer announced.

Catherine Pugh, a Democrat who was elected in 2016, had faced mounting calls to step down.

The FBI raided her two homes and city hall last week, though no criminal charges have been filed.

“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 said in a statement read by her lawyer, Steven Silverman.

“Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward.”

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Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who has called on Pugh to step down, applauded her decision as the “right” one, adding “it was clear the mayor could no longer lead effectively.”

“The federal and state investigations must and will continue to uncover the facts,” Hogan said on Twitter.

Pugh came under fire for “self-dealing” after The Baltimore Sun newspaper revealed that the University of Maryland Medical System spent $500,000 to buy 100,000 copies of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books.

At the time, she was serving as a member of the hospital system’s board.

Though she initially called probes into the deal a “witch hunt,” Pugh later resigned the board post and returned $100,000.

She called the book sale to the hospital system a “regrettable mistake.”

Then last month, the Kaiser Permanente insurance company said it paid Pugh $114,000 for “Healthy Holly” books from 2015 to 2018.

In 2017, Kaiser won a $48 million contract to provide health insurance to city employees from 2018 to 2020.

Pugh, 69, went on sick leave on April 1 as calls for her resignation intensified.

The president of the city council, Bernard Young, who had been serving as acting mayor, will complete Pugh’s term, which ends in 2020.

– Violence –
Baltimore, a city of some 600,000, is grappling with a soaring crime rate, racial unrest and poverty levels that are among the highest in the country. Since 2015, “Charm City” has recorded more than 300 homicides a year.

Pugh’s election came one year after riots shook Baltimore following the death of a young black man, Freddie Gray, who fell into a coma while in police custody.

Distrust of the police is common among African-Americans, who make up two-thirds of the city’s residents.

The Baltimore police department was forced to undergo reforms after the federal government in 2016 accused it of widespread rights violations and corruption.

AFP