Baltimore Mayor announces ‘leave of absence’ following her self-published kids’ book fiasco

Neetu Chandak, DCNF

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who is embroiled in a fiasco involving her self-published kids’ book, announced she will take an indefinite leave of absence due to health problems.

“At this time, with the Mayor’s health deteriorating, she feels as though she is unable to fulfill her obligations as Mayor of Baltimore City,” Pugh’s office said in a press release Monday. “To that end, Mayor Pugh will be taking an indefinite leave of absence to recuperate from this serious illness.”

Pugh has been “battling pneumonia” for a few weeks, according to the statement.

The 69-year-old mayor came under fire since it was discovered she sold her book, “Healthy Holly: Exercising is Fun!” to the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) for $500,000 while on the system’s board. UMMS made five transactions between 2012 and 2018, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he was worried about the $500,000 sale to a university-affiliated organization “because it has significant continuing ties with the State and receives very substantial public funding,” The Associated Press reported.

Pugh was a state Senate member and on the Senate Finance Committee that saw issues related to UMMS for most of the time the book deal existed, but she did not disclose the book’s earnings on ethics forms, reported the Sun.

Health insurer Kaiser Permanente also bought over $100,000 worth of Pugh’s books between 2015 and 2018, the Sun reported.

Hogan called on state officials to look into the allegations.

“The Mayor has to resign — now,” Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot tweeted. “The people of Baltimore are facing too many serious challenges, as it is, to also to deal with such brazen, cartoonish corruption from their chief executive.”

Pugh resigned from the UMMS board in a March 18 announcement.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young will preside over Pugh’s daily routines, the press statement said.

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