Baltimore's acting mayor says he 'would hate to see' embattled mayor return after book scandals

Acting Baltimore Mayor Bernard Young admitted he “would hate to see” embattled Mayor Catherine Pugh return to work after she received $500,000 from the University of Maryland Medical System in what critics have called a “self-dealing” book sale.

Pugh, a Democrat, has been on an indefinite leave of absence since April 1, citing health reasons that seemed to coincide with revelations that she sold her "Healthy Holly" books to companies over which she had influence and could award contracts to when she became mayor.

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“I would hate to see it,” Young said during an interview with Baltimore's WYPR-FM radio, though he stopped short of calling for the scandal-ridden mayor to resign.

The scandals stem from word that health care firm Kaiser Permanente paid $114,000 for roughly 20,000 copies of Pugh's self-published “Healthy Holly” children's book series between 2015 and 2018, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Since 2011, Pugh also received $500,000 for selling approximately 100,000 books to the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS).

Pugh, who sat on the system's board since 2001, became Baltimore's mayor in 2016. The next year, Baltimore's spending board, which is controlled by the mayor, awarded a $48 million contract to the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States Inc. Kaiser previously held that contract.

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According to the Sun, Young told the radio show he hasn’t spoken with Pugh for more than two weeks and doesn’t know the current status of her health.

“It’s frustrating,” Young said. “I would like to know when she plans to return, if she’s going to return.”

But when pressed whether the mayor should resign, Young offered only a diplomatic response: “I’m not going to say that. I’m wishing the mayor well.”

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There’s no indication when Pugh plans to return to her nearly $200,000-a-year position, but her staff reportedly insisted that she will return once her health improves.

During a news conference last month, Pugh described the book deal with the university-based health care system as a "regrettable mistake," and apologized for "any lack of confidence or disappointment" citizens and colleagues may have felt.

Fox News’ Nicole Darrah and the Associated Press contributed to this report.