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A self-published children’s book brought down Baltimore’s mayor

Corinne Segal

May 3, 2019, 1:11pm

“Buy a self-published children’s book” is admittedly not at the top of the list when it comes to ways to gain political influence, and yet that’s the emerging picture in Baltimore, where Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned yesterday after controversy from such a book came to a head.

The Baltimore Sun reported in March that the University of Maryland Medical System paid her $500,000 for 100,000 copies of the “Healthy Holly” books she authored from 2011 to 2018 while she was a board member. It was one contract among several that raised eyebrows; other members of the board, who hold unpaid positions, had also benefited from business deals with the network they were supposed to oversee and that receives taxpayer money.

The Sun also revealed that other entities had paid Pugh what amounts to astronomical prices in the realm of self-published books: Kaiser Permanente bought more than 20,000 copies for more than $100,000 as it was seeking a multi-million dollar contract with the city, and the Associated Black Charities purchased a batch of 10,000 books for $80,000.

After initially defending her contract with the hospital system and resigning from the board, Pugh issued an apology and took a leave of absence in early April, citing health issues. This week, under an investigation from the Office of the State Prosecutor, and after raids of her home and office from the FBI and the IRS, Pugh resigned.

Also: tens of thousands of those books are missing in action. The Sun also reported that thousands of “Healthy Holly” books were paid for, but never received, by Baltimore County Public Schools, public school libraries, the Ivy Bookshop, and a number of others.

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