Catherine Pugh, a Democrat, currently serves as the 50th mayor of Baltimore, Maryland.
The 69-year-old was elected in November 2016, but took an indefinite leave of absence earlier this month. She cited health concerns, but it was evident it was because she is under investigation by the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor for sales of her Healthy Holly children’s books and if she used her position for government kickbacks.
Federal agents raided Pugh’s home, part of City Hall, and another location on Thursday.
According to her neighbors, they have not seen Pugh at her home in Northwest Baltimore for about five weeks.
For a salary in fiscal year 2018, Pugh brought in $178,294 — making her the 12th highest-paid mayor in the country.
1. Pugh’s Salary Does Not Make Her the Highest Paid Baltimore City Employee
According to the Baltimore Business Journal, Pugh’s salary in the last fiscal year was $178,294, which made her the 12th highest paid mayor in the country.
However, with that salary, she’s only the 55th highest-paid Baltimore City employee. Among the 50 top earners in the city between July 2017 and June 2018, 40 are employees of the city’s police department.
The Baltimore Sun puts her annual salary at $185,000.
2. Pugh Reportedly Received Some $800,000 Over The Years In Connection With The Books She Wrote
The scandal centers on the deals Pugh made to sell her book Healthy Holly, and whether she disclosed those deals.
In one 2015 deal, Kaiser Permanente paid $114,000 to purchase some 20,000 copies.
Two years later, according to NPR, “the city’s budget board, which Pugh sits on, awarded Kaiser a multi-million-dollar contract to provide health coverage for city employees. And as far as we know, Pugh did not recuse herself from that vote.”
Pugh also had a previously undisclosed business contract with the University of Maryland Medical System — a $4 billion hospital network — worth $500,000 dating back to 2011.
The university paid Pugh for 100,000 copies of her books between 2011 and 2018, the Associated Press reported.
During the time she sold the bucks, she pushed legislation that would have benefited the regional system.
Pugh, who sat on the UMMS board of directors since 2011, resigned from the position and returned her most recent $100,000 payment after it was exposed in March.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Pugh’s Healthy Holly LLC took in at least $800,000 from local entities since 2011.
3. The City is Paying More Than $685,000 in Salary for Pugh and Her Six Staffers on Leave
Pugh is on paid leave, as are some of her highest-ranking and closest associates.
The city has not explained why the mayor’s six staffers have been placed on leave.
4. The Investigation Began at the Request of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan
The Maryland State Prosecutor opened an investigation into Pugh earlier this month.
“The mayor will be cooperating with that investigation to the fullest extent possible,” attorney Steven D. Silverman said in an email.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan asked State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt to start an investigation of Pugh’s $500,000 sale of the books to UMMS while she was on its board. Several members of the Baltimore City Council, all Democrats, said that they supported Hogan’s request.
The state prosecutor’s office can also investigate political corruption and violations of election laws, but does not confirm or deny the existence of any such investigations.
The Baltimore Sun was first to report that federal agents from the FBI and IRS were taking action on Thursday.
5. There Have Been Many Calls for Pugh to Resign
Calls have intensified for Pugh to resign.
“On April 1, I directed the state prosecutor to investigate the disturbing allegations surrounding Mayor Catherine Pugh’s questionable financial dealings with the University of Maryland Medical System. Today, agents for the FBI and the IRS executed search warrants at the mayor’s homes and offices,” Hogan said Thursday. “Now more than ever, Baltimore City needs strong and responsible leadership. Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead. For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign.”
Democratic City Councilman Brandon Scott also called Thursday for Pugh to resign. The entire City Council, lawmakers in the House of Delegates and the pro-business Greater Baltimore Committee are also seeking her resignation.
“Mayor Pugh should resign immediately. Baltimore needs to move forward and heal from this embarrassment. Baltimore is a great and resilient city, but we can’t waste anymore time on this issue,” Scott said in a statement. “There are many important issues in front of us that require the complete attention of a full-time mayor. Our focus must continue to be fighting crime and improving the schools in our city.”
Baltimore state Sen. Bill Ferguson (D) called the searches a “breaking point” for Pugh’s tenure. “We can’t keep going like this,” he said. “This feels like an ultimate low.”
Pugh’s attorney Steven Silverman declined to comment to multiple news organizations on Thursday.
Acting Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young this week said he would “hate to see” Pugh return to office, but said that if he demanded her to resign it would be “self-serving.