The Baltimore City Council called Monday for Mayor Catherine E. Pugh to step down over her children’s book scandal, and state lawmakers from Baltimore quickly followed suit.
In a letter to Pugh, the council said the “entire membership of the Baltimore City Council believes that it is not in the best interest of the City of Baltimore for you to continue to serve as Mayor. We urge you to tender your resignation, effective immediately.”
Pugh, who took an indefinite leave of absence for medical reasons last week, has been focused “on recovering from pneumonia and regaining her health,” a statement released by her office said. “She fully intends to resume the duties of her office and continuing her work on behalf of the people and the City of Baltimore.”
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) is serving as acting mayor.
Pugh was heavily criticized after the Baltimore Sun reported that she was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for her “Healthy Holly” book series, in most cases by businesses and organizations that work with the government and on whose boards she was sitting.
The series follows an African American girl named Holly and is meant to encourage healthy living.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has requested an investigation by the state prosecutor, and Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) has said Pugh should leave office.
The Baltimore City House delegation said Monday evening that it was “not in the best interests of Baltimore” for Pugh to remain in office.
“The position of mayor is not a revolving door,” Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore City) said. “We hope the mayor will do what is best for the city of Baltimore.”
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert) said Monday that Baltimore is in urgent need of good leadership. “I’m not getting involved in the politics of Baltimore City, but if she’s going to step back she needs to do so quickly,” he told reporters.
Pugh’s biggest known book deal involved the University of Maryland Medical System, which paid her $500,000 for 100,000 books. Pugh was a longtime member of the hospital system’s board, and as a state senator before she was mayor she pushed legislation that would have benefited the hospital system.
She was one of nine board members with lucrative contracts with the hospital system. Those board members, including Pugh, have either resigned or taken leaves of absence since the Sun’s report. Pugh returned $100,000 for the last order in the series, which she said is not complete.
The Sun also reported that Pugh was paid more than $100,000 for her books from Kaiser Permanente and $80,000 from Associated Black Charities.
Around the same time she was making money from her book deals, city officials said, Kaiser received a $48 million contract.
Pugh issued an apology last month for her book deals.
“I sincerely want to say that I apologize that I have done something to upset the people of Baltimore,” she said at an appearance on March 28. “I never intended to do anything that could not stand up to scrutiny.”
Ovetta Wiggins and Rachel Chason contributed to this report.