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Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigns under weight of children's book scandal

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Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh

Before reading the prepared resignation letter that was reportedly drafted by City Solicitor Andre Davis, Steven Silverman said it was a sad day for Baltimore. As it would turn out, March 28 would be the last time Catherine E. Pugh would be seen publicly and in her official capacity as Baltimore's 50th Mayor.

It was as that press conference Pugh apologized to the city for what she called a "regrettable mistake" in regards to the $500,000 book deal with the University of Maryland Medical System. That deal happened when Pugh was a State Senator and volunteer member of the UMMS Board of Directors. Pugh announced she had resigned from the board and had returned the latest $100,000 installment of the UMMS payment on the deal.

For the past month, Governor Larry Hogan, the entire Baltimore City Council and a host of other state lawmakers have called for Pugh’s resignation, and Thursday it happened.

“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 a privilege. Today I am submitting my written resignation to the Baltimore City Council. I am 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. I want to thank all of our department heads and staff who work hard every day to improve the quality of life for all who live, work and visit our city. I also thank Jack Young, the president of the City Council for his steadfast leadership in my absence. I wish you well in your new role as Mayor of Baltimore City.”

--Catherine E. Pugh

A separate letter written to Acting Mayor Young, the 69-year old Pugh said:

“In the best interest of the people and government of the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, I am writing to attest, that effectively immediately, I hereby resign from the office of Mayor, to which I was duly elected on November 8, 2016. I am confident I have left the city in capable hands for the duration of the term to which I was elected.”

While she's been on leave, Pugh has been under investigation for book deals with businesses that work closely with the city, which have earned her hundreds of thousands of dollars.    

The Baltimore Sun reported healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente paid Mayor Pugh $114,000 for her Health Holly books. The newspaper reports Pugh, a Democrat, became mayor in December 2016. In September 2017, the city’s spending board, which Pugh sits on and controls, awarded the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States Inc. a $48 million contract to provide health insurance to city employees from 2018 through 2020, with options to renew.

Last week, the FBI and IRS raided her homes and offices

In reaction to Pugh’s resignation, Governor Hogan said it was “the right decision, as it was clear the mayor could no longer lead effectively. The federal and state investigations must and will continue to uncover the facts.”

Councilman Brandon Scott released a statement saying “Today is a day of relief and accountability for Baltimore. Now the city can move forward with tackling the vast challenges facing Baltimore including improving our schools and reducing crime.”

Councilman Bill Henry released a statement offering his reaction to Mayor Pugh’s resignation. "These past seven weeks have been extremely trying for Baltimore City, " said Henry. "Today, I'm glad that Mayor Pugh has made the decision to do what's best for the people she took an oath to serve." Henry called Baltimore City "resilient."

Young, who now removes the Ex-Officio from his title and serve as Mayor for the duration of Pugh term (next year), released a statement of his own:

“The resignation is effective immediately, “said Young. “I believe this action is in the best interest of the City of Baltimore. In accordance with the city’s Charter, I will serve as Baltimore’s 51st Mayor. I pledge that my focus will not change. I have listened to the concerns of our citizens and I will continue to work diligently to address those concerns.”  (Read Mayor Young’s full statement here)

Also releasing a statement with reaction to Pugh’s resignation is Acting City Council President Sharon Green Middleton. “Mayor Catherine Pugh made a decision I believe to be in the best interests of the citizens of Baltimore,” said Middleton. “She has served the city and we are better because of that service.  Middleton pledge to work with Mayor Young and colleagues on the city council in committing to provide stability and re-establishing trust in government and she wished Mayor Pugh well.