Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned Thursday, as pressure for her to step down amid a payoff scandal reached untenable levels.
The mayor, who has been on extended leave citing a bout with pneumonia, first told AFRO Publisher Toni Draper that she would resign and the African-American-owned newspaper was the first to break the story.
After confiding in Draper, Pugh wrote a letter offering her resignation.
“Dear citizens of Baltimore, I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve as the 50th mayor,” she wrote. “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.”
Pugh has been caught up in a scandal of “self-dealing” over the sale of a children’s book she authored. A spokesperson for Pugh’s company, Healthy Holly LLC, confirmed that while Pugh was a board member of the University of Maryland Medical System, the medical system spent $500,000 to fund the purchase of some 100,000 books from the company.
Pugh’s home was raided last week by FBI and criminal investigators from the IRS. Investigators also issued a search for a second residence belonging to Pugh, as well as the nonprofit Maryland Center for Adult Training — which the former mayor has worked with — and the home of a former Pugh aide.
“This was the right decision, as it was clear the mayor could no longer lead effectively,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who was among those calling for Pugh to step aside. “The federal and state investigations must and will continue to uncover the facts. Baltimore City can now begin to move forward. The state pledges its full support to incoming Mayor Jack Young and to city leaders during this time of transition.”
Young, who had been the interim mayor during Pugh’s absence, promptly fired several of her top staffers upon taking the reins. He’ll finish out the remainder of Pugh’s term, which runs through 2020.
“Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward,” Pugh said. “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 want to 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.”