BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Mayor Pugh took Wednesday off from multiple public appearances in the wake of an ethics controversy surrounding her time on the board of the University of Maryland Medical System.

The mayor also missed Wednesday morning’s Board of Estimates meeting.

A City employee sat in for Mayor Pugh at the meeting after she called out sick and canceled her weekly news conference.

This, amid growing concerns she sold the system, $500,000 worth of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books.

Her spokesperson told WJZ she has returned $100,000 from her book sales.

Books that the System, in turn, gave to City schools and are sitting in a district warehouse.

“We have to be clear, no matter who it is, and avoid any conflicts of interest and any appearance of conflicts of interest,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland.

Pugh’s friend Congressman Cummings said Wednesday at Morgan State he did not know of the book sales and wants to know more.

“I would urge the board–the entire board, there are quite a few members of that board–I think all of them should put a mirror up to themselves and ask themselves do they have conflicts?” Cummings said.

In Annapolis, state comptroller criticized the deal and asked for an independent audit.

“The 500 thousand dollar book deal caught my eye with a former senator who led the finance committee that funded a lot of the operations at UMMS. And, now everyone is is wringing their hands about the self-dealing that was going on,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot, D-Maryland.

While Mayor Pugh failed to disclose business dealings and even donated money from her book company to her campaign, the city’s top lawyer said no laws were broken.

“I’m not aware of any violations of the mayor. None,” said Andre Davis, city solicitor.

Gov. Hogan said on Monday he was “shocked, outraged and appalled,” and that there was a meeting scheduled Wednesday with legislative and UMMS leadership.

The meeting was reportedly private and closed to the media.

The Director of Communications for the Office of Gov. Hogan released a statement following the meeting:

It was a productive meeting where Governor Hogan clearly and emphatically expressed his concerns about conflicts of interest on the board of UMMS. He underlined the importance of addressing the public outcry, and the leaders of UMMS expressed their commitmment to act. We will work closely with the legislature on measures to improve oversight and accountability on the board.

Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting, but also released a statement in regard to the meeting:

“Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the meeting this afternoon due to a follow-up procedure to my 2017 liver transplant. The problems surrounding the UMMS Board continue to concern me. UMMS cannot regain the public’s trust without a full accounting. On Monday, I requested emergency legislation to bring more transparency to the hospital system and make reforms to the UMMS Board, that will be introduced at the end of this week. I’d like to thank Senator Carter for her efforts to bring these ethical lapses to light. I hope we will continue to work collaboratively, along with the Senate President and the Governor, to quickly address these issues.”

Continue to stay with WJZ for more on this story.

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Paul Gessler

Comments (13)
  1. My first question is why the MAYOR did disclose it on her ETHICS report therefore hiding something and for sure SHADY DEALINGS going on!! IRS needs to do a full audit of her finances!

  2. Tickedoff Person says:

    This shows her true character. She got caught…simple as that. She would have not given a dime back if this never came to light. In her LEFT WING mind..she did nothing wrong. After all, the other Mayor’s before her did worse and nothing happened. They received their full pensions for just a few years of occupying office. Notice I did not say the work word.

    1. She only gave it back because she got caught doing something unethical and a major conflict of interests! Not to mention she withheld info from her ethics disclosure statement which is a HUGE issue because ETHICS=TRUST

  3. Nice job casting shadows on other to remove the heat off the MAYOR! Question?? Ever hear of ‘two wrongs don’t make a right”?? We the public are watching every move to see all are held accountable for any ethics violations, conflicts of interests or wrong doings by public officials. We are going to make sure NOTHING gets swept under the carpet!

  4. Hooooo boy.

    How many books were purchased, ie what was the price of each book? How much did the books cost to illustrate, write, and print? Who did the work and how much were they paid? What was the selection process of this book vs others? What other items or services was pugh or her associates or charities or foundations were purchased.

    First whiff of pugh’s work is… this stinks. Gotta get closer to find out how bad.

  5. Robert A. Chrencik will begin his absence Monday, The CEO of the UMMS has been asked to take a leave of absence, the Board Chair said Thursday..What a surprise! This whole thing STINKS of wrong doing, ethics violations and possible criminal activity by the MAYOR and/or public officials. A full criminal, ethics investigation and IRS audit into the MAYORS dealing needs to be done ASAP! Everyone is jumping ship and distancing themselves from the fallout of this SCANDAL perpetrated by PUBLIC OFFICIALS!I Speaks volumes why the MAYOR has dropped out of site and is AVOIDING the media at all costs! Corruption and/or ethics violations once again from CITY HALL…ETHICS = TRUST, NO ETHICS NO TRUST!

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