Kaiser Permanente paid Baltimore mayor more than $100K for her books as it sought city contract: report

Kaiser Permanente reportedly paid Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (D) more than $100,000 for her series of children’s books while the company was in the running for a contract to provide city employees’ health benefits.

Kaiser told The Baltimore Sun it paid about $114,000 for 20,000 copies of Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” books between 2015 and 2018. Pugh assumed office in December 2016, and the city’s spending board, which she controls, awarded a $48 million contract to the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States Inc. the following September, according to the Sun.

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“Since 2015, Kaiser Permanente has purchased and distributed Healthy Holly, among other books, to families and children throughout Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia,” the company reportedly said. “We have purchased and distributed about 20,000 Healthy Holly books, at a cost of approximately $114,000.”

Kaiser has held contracts with Baltimore since 2008 and had previously held the one it won in 2017, according to the Sun. In her ethics disclosures, Pugh reported receiving income from the books in 2017 but was not required to report the source of her company, Healthy Holly LLC’s, income.

Pugh had also received $500,000 to print 100,000 copies of the books from the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) while she sat on its board, according to the Sun, and acknowledged last week that she was paid $100,000 for 20,000 books by the city school system, which she only recently delivered to schools.

Pugh has returned $100,000 intended for a fifth book to UMMS, according to the newspaper. She also resigned from the UMMS board earlier this month.

Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.