BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s book company has given $7,040 in political contributions over the last three years, including $5,000 to her own campaign, tax forms show.
Healthy Holly LLC gave $1,000 through a ticket purchase to Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.’s campaign, and $1,000 to state Sen. Jill Carter.
The Olszewski campaign has said they were not aware of the contribution, and said they were returning the contribution Tuesday.
A smaller amount, just $40, was donated to the B.E.S.T. Democratic Club PAC in 2016.
The mayor resigned as a board member of the University of Maryland Medical System a week after concerns over conflicts of interests were raised for failing to fully disclose the $500,000 business relationship she started with the hospital in 2011.
Pugh filed disclosure forms with incorrect information and failed to disclose her position with the UMMS board in city ethics forms.
“I was frankly shocked and appalled. I was outraged when I found out (and) read these reports,” Governor Larry Hogan said late Monday morning. “You should not be a board member and receive compensation. I think (resigning) was a smart thing for the mayor to do.”
She defended her decision to sell her self-published books to UMMS, while she was on its board of directors.
“It has been an honor to have been associated with the important work of the UMMS Board, but the fact is, I have many other pressing concerns that require my full attention, energy and efforts,” Pugh said in her statement. “I have the utmost admiration for the University of Maryland Medical System as one of our City’s and State’s greatest assets and will continue to advocate for its tremendous impact on the health of our region.”
Pugh’s communication consultant, Gregory Tucker, announced Tuesday he had decided to not renew his contract to work with the mayor.
“Having now been on contract with the City of Baltimore and the Office of the Mayor since January of 2018, I’ve decided not to seek a renewal of my contract given that I feel that I’ve contributed as much as I set out to accomplish. A number of key communications roles have been fulfilled, and the Mayor has recently brought on a new chief of staff.
Moreover, I am intent on building my communications advisory practice. I was privileged to support the introduction of the new Police Commissioner, Michael Harrison, and to support the communications of Mayor Pugh over this past year to highlight all that is underway to reduce disparity, create a new era of neighborhood investment and provide pathways for young people. I’m grateful for this opportunity and will continue to be an ardent advocate for the great City that Baltimore is and promote its unparalleled assets at every opportunity.” – Gregory Tucker
Stephen A. Burch, Chairman of the UMMS board released a statement on the members whose businesses have active relationships with the UMMS, as well as the resignations of two other board members Tuesday:
“As Chairman of the Board of Directors for the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), I take very seriously the concerns raised regarding Board members that have business relationships with UMMS. Addressing this issue is of the highest priority for me and the organization. There is nothing more important than the trust of those who depend on our leadership.
It is with this spirit that I have requested those Board members whose businesses currently have relationships with the Medical System – August J. Chiasera, Francis X. Kelly, James A. Soltesz and Walter A. Tilley, Jr. – to immediately take a voluntary leave of absence from the Board while we thoroughly review our governance practices and move toward even greater transparency. I have also accepted the resignations of UMMS Board members John W. Dillon and Robert L. Pevenstein. Let me be abundantly clear, this is not a reflection on any of the affected Board members or their businesses. Our Board members are incredibly talented professionals who bring invaluable expertise and perspective while advancing Maryland’s own world-class health care system.
Not only have we taken these critical steps, we will evaluate how the Board conducts business, including a comprehensive review of existing agreements and contracts, and will create a path forward, with a view toward enhanced governance and optimal transparency. I, along with UMMS President and CEO Robert Chrencik, look forward to a healthy and productive dialogue with Governor Hogan, House Speaker Busch and Senate President Miller tomorrow,”
Political Science Professor Matthew Crenson said that the mayor may lose some public trust.
“It was certainly improper,” he said. “An ethical lapse for her to have accepted so much money from the University of Maryland Medical System when she was on the board.”