On Thursday, federal agents executed a number of search warrants as the investigations into whether Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh illegally profited from a no-bid book deal intensified.
CNN reports that the FBI and criminal investigators from the Internal Revenue Service searched the home of the Democratic mayor, an additional residence she owns, the downtown office of her attorney, and a non-profit she has worked with. FBI spokesman Dave Fitz confirmed that the home of a former Pugh aide named Gary Brown is also being searched.
No arrests have been made at this time in connection with the raids, but Pugh was home when authorities arrived at her house at approximately 7 a.m. ET.
“Now more than ever, Baltimore City needs strong and responsible leadership,” Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement. “Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead. For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign.”
Earlier this month, we reported that the embattled mayor was taking an indefinite leave of absence citing health concerns.
But the timing was peculiar, considering at the time “her office was embroiled in a scandal over a self-published children’s book Pugh wrote,” according to The Root Staff Writer Anne Branigin.
As the Baltimore Sun reported earlier this week, Kaiser Permanente paid $114,000 to purchase about 20,000 copies of Pugh’s Healthy Holly children’s book series between 2015-2018. At the same time, the healthcare giant was vying for the contract to provide health insurance to city employees. The Healthy Holly books are intended to promote healthy eating and exercise habits.
Last month, the Sun reported on Pugh’s dealings with the University of Maryland Medical System; Pugh sat on the board of UMMS until March 18, when she resigned from her position. As the paper reports, UMMS paid the mayor $500,000 for copies of her Healthy Holly books between 2012 and 2018. UMMS runs hospitals around Baltimore.
In the aftermath, Pugh apologized for having “done something to upset the people” but calls for her resignation have reached a fever pitch despite canceling her book deal and opting to return $100,000 to the medical system.
It ain’t looking so hot for the former Baltimore City Council member, but we’ll keep you updated as this story develops.