Baltimore City Council urges mayor to resign amid probe into $500K book payment

The Baltimore City Council on Monday called for Mayor Catherine Pugh (D) to resign over an ongoing scandal involving the sales of her self-published children’s books.

In a letter signed by all 14 members, the council called on Pugh to resign effective immediately.

“This unprecedented step has not been taken lightly,” Councilman Eric Costello, who represents the city’s 11th District, said in a tweet. “While I fully support the notion of ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ I remain deeply concerned about the immeasurable toll this scandal has taken on the City of Baltimore and its citizens.”

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"Baltimore will continue to have a cloud over its head while the investigations into Mayor Pugh's business dealings go on,” Councilman Brandon Scott, who represents the city’s Second District, said in a statement. “These issues are extremely severe and prohibit the Mayor from focusing on the business of Baltimore."

Pugh made $500,000 when the University of Maryland Medical System, whose board she sat on at the time, purchased 100,000 copies of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books, according to The Baltimore Sun. Between 2005 and 2018, Kaiser Permanente paid about $114,000 for 20,000 copies of the books, including while the company was bidding for a city contract.

Pugh, who was elected in 2016, announced an indefinite leave of absence last week, which her office said was to recover from pneumonia.

In a statement, Pugh's office said she "fully intends to resume the duties of her office" once she recovers.

--This report was updated at 2:30 p.m.