Democratic Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced that she will be taking an “indefinite leave of absence,” in an official statement from her office announced Monday, due to an ongoing battle with pneumonia. The timing of the announcement is quite interesting because the Mayor facing a scandal over a major purchase of children’s books, she wrote by the University of Maryland Medical System.
According to reporting by CNN WBAL, Pugh was paid $500,000 since 2011 to publish children’s books for Baltimore City schoolchildren.
In an apology last week, Pugh lamented, “I sincerely want to say I apologize that I have done something to upset the people, the people of Baltimore that I love and care for. I never intended to do anything that could not stand up to scrutiny. As your mayor, I am committed to conducting my office in a way that maintain your trust and reflects only positively on our city. In hindsight, this arrangement with the University of Maryland Medical System was a regrettable mistake.”
A spokesperson for Baltimore City Schools released a statement saying: “As we have indicated, City Schools has not located documentation of receipt of books. The shipping manifests provided today by Mayor Pugh had not been shared with us previously. We will review this new paperwork to determine if it may allow tracing shipments beyond the one staff members recall receiving.”
Pugh recently returned $100,000 to the medical system and canceled her book deal, all at the same time she stepped off the board. She said she will continue to write children’s books — and showed children’s clothes she’s now designing.
We’ll have more on the story as it develops.