By Barnini Chakraborty
Published May 02, 2019
Baltimore's embattled Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned Thursday amid state and federal investigations into whether she used bulk sales of her self-published children's book "Healthy Holly" to disguise kickbacks.
The announcement, effective immediately, ends weeks of uncertainty surrounding the first-term Democrat.
"Sorry for the harm that I have caused to the image of the city of Baltimore and to the credibility of the office of the mayor," Pugh's attorney Steven Silverman read in a statement from her. "Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward."
Calls for Pugh to resign had intensified in the past few days. Instead of making a decision, though, Pugh stayed holed up inside her three-story home for nearly a month. Her lawyers said she was too fragile to make a decision but residents and members of her own party grew weary of her open-ended retreat and demanded she either step up or step aside.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan also joined the chorus of calls for Pugh to resign and has asked the state prosecutor to investigate allegations of "self-dealing" by Pugh.
Hogan and the chairwoman of the state’s Democratic Party said Pugh made the right decision on Thursday. Hogan tweeted that “it was clear the mayor could no longer lead effectively.”
Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings said the resignation gave the city the "opportunity to address its challenges with courage and optimism.”
Late last month, federal investigators seized records from Pugh's City Hall office and two of her homes as well as a nonprofit tied to her. Authorities also searched the apartment of one of Hugh's former top aides, purportedly looking for financial records about a children's book she wrote and then sold to health care companies with ties to the city.
The "Healthy Holly" book scandal has consumed Maryland's largest city, which is facing a number of different problems including a soaring crime rate and an illegal drug problem.
Pugh was the third Baltimore mayor to face sustained calls to resign.
During her self-imposed administrative leave, acting Mayor Bernard "Jack" Young has taken Pugh's place
Young is currently in Detroit for an economic development conference with the National Organization of Black County Officials and is expected to return to Baltimore on Sunday.
Young does not need to be sworn in.