BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The University of Maryland Medical System wasn’t the only buyer of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” children’s books.
This week, more organizations have come forward saying they also got in on the deals.
The health provider Kaiser Permanante paid Pugh more than $100,000 to buy about 20,000 copies of her books during a time when the company was seeking a contract to provide health benefits to employees.
Most recently, the non-profit Associated Black Charities released information about its involvement with Healthy Holly LLC.
ABC Board of Directors disclosed information about their purchase of the books on March 28.
They said they became involved in 2011 with “the goal of furthering ABC’s wealth and health disparities agenda including a focus on childhood obesity and expanding knowledge about ABC’s agenda.”
In discussions with then-Senator Pugh, ABC learned of the book focusing on childhood healthy behavior, they said.
ABC confirmed it received 4,500 copies of the 10,000 Healthy Holly books purchased for direct distribution for African American children. Records then further showed that of the 4,500 received, 4,100 were distributed to child care centers and youth-serving organizations in Baltimore and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
They said of the books distributed, 3,000 included a bookmark urging parents to read to their children and to thank the author Catherine Pugh and the donors.
400 of the books were water-damaged and were not delivered or replaced, ABC said.
Healthy Holly, LLC retained the responsibility to directly distribute the remaining 5,500 paid for by donors.
They disclosed that between 2011 and 2016, five organizations- including CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, another city insurer donated $87,180 to ABC to pay for the books, of which ABC retained a gross sum of $9,552, which they said was used for general support.
ABC said they re-examined the project after media accounts raised questions about the other book purchases. As a result, ABC said they have passed a resolution prohibiting ABC from entering into any business arrangements with elected officials or politically appointed persons.
They also authorized an independent financial review of donations and the source of those donations to see if any current other ABC transactions involved an elected official or politically appointed official.
The review also includes developing a process to review ABC vendors and to return the gross funds, $9,552 that ABC received, either to the original funders or donated to a local charity focused on childhood health issues.