‘I’m 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…’
(Ian Duncan And Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun) Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh resigned Thursday, apologizing for the harm she has caused to the city’s image and the mayor’s office amid a growing scandal over her sales of a self-published children’s book series.
Following a high-profile raid on her home and several other locations, speculation was rampant that the federal investigation into Pugh’s business dealings could be much more expansive than initially thought.
Pugh submitted a letter of resignation dated Thursday. Her resignation is effective immediately, attorney Steven Silverman said at a news conference. She did not attend, and Silverman took no questions.
“Dear citizens of Baltimore I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve as the 50th mayor. It has been an honor and privilege,” Pugh, 69, said in a statement read by Silverman. “I’m 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. Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward.”
The Democrat’s defiant pledge last month to return to work gave way after federal agents raided her home and City Hall office a week ago. She becomes the second Baltimore mayor in a decade to quit in connection with a criminal investigation.
Pugh, once seen as a cleaner option in a city with a history of wrongdoing by politicians, was ultimately overtaken by the public outcry over hundreds of thousands of dollars in deals for her “Healthy Holly” books. They were revealed in a series of articles in The Baltimore Sun that began March 13.
Pugh’s story shifted as she tried to account for first the deal to be disclosed, struck with the University of Maryland Medical System when she was a member of the hospital network’s board. She nonetheless called continued questioning by reporters a “witch hunt.”
Then, after being hospitalized for pneumonia, Pugh apologized for the UMMS sales at a City Hall news conference on March 28. But in the process of apologizing she disclosed that some 40,000 books UMMS had paid for were never produced. And in a bizarre twist, the still seriously ill mayor showed off a line of baby clothes.
The following week, it was revealed that other entities had paid for the books, including health insurer Kaiser Permanente, which made payments during the period it successfully sought a $48 million city contract.
Pugh, saying her health remained poor, announced April 1 that she was going on leave and hasn’t been seen in public since.
Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young has been running city government in Pugh’s place. He was cementing his leadership of the city even before last week’s dramatic federal raids.
Before the scandal, Pugh had tried to bring about positive change in Baltimore, but struggled to curb violent crime that reached historic levels before she took office and remained persistently high.
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