Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Baltimore mayor corruption charge

Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh has resigned from the board of the University of Maryland Medical System following a controversy involving a deal with the hospital system to buy her children’s books.
Last week, Pugh (D) and others on the health system’s board were criticized by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and top state lawmakers for the financial deals with the hospital system and possible conflicts of interest.
On a financial disclosure form, Pugh listed a $100,000 profit for one year from selling 20,000 copies of her self-published children’s book series “Healthy Holly” to the University of Maryland health system, which runs 13 hospitals including the state’s trauma unit in Baltimore and has connections with the state’s dental and medical schools.
Hogan described the financial contracts, which are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, as “appalling” and “unseemly.” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) called them “self-dealing” and “a huge disaster.”
The deals were first disclosed last week by the Baltimore Sun, which reported that Pugh’s deals with the hospital board totaled $500,000 over several years, and were not fully listed on disclosure forms when Pugh represented Baltimore in the state Senate.
Other board members who had lucrative deals included former state senator Francis X. Kelly, who owns an insurance company and reported $1.6 million in revenue from deals with the hospital system.
Legislation pending in the General Assembly would ban similar business arrangements.
In a statement put out Monday explaining her resignation, Pugh said she had “other pressing concerns that require my full attention, energy and efforts.” The Sun reported Friday that she had amended her state disclosure forms from her time in the Senate.
The system’s board members are appointed by the governor and the General Assembly’s presiding officers.
Hogan said he, Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) are scheduled to meet with the leadership of the health system on Wednesday in Annapolis. He said Pugh’s resignation was “a step in the right direction . . . I think it was a smart thing for the mayor to do. ”
Last week the governor called on board members with contracts with the health system to step down.
“We’re going to push for major reforms to make sure people either terminate their financial relationship or terminate them from the board,” Hogan said Monday about the legislative session. “One way or another, [we’ll] make sure that things like this don’t happen in the future.”
Officials at the hospital system have said their contracts are legal.
In a statement, Stephen A. Burch, chairman of the UMMS, said he had accepted Pugh’s resignation and was “grateful to Mayor Pugh for her years of dedicated service and staunch advocacy on behalf of the Medical System.”
He went on, “Mayor Pugh’s volunteerism has helped enable long-term, system-wide growth while improving health care delivery for many millions of Marylanders.”
Pugh’s spokesman James E. Bentley II said the mayor is leaving the hospital system’s board to deal with the city’s issues.
“We have a new police commissioner,” he said. “We’re trying to fund city schools. The mayor is focused on neighborhood revitalization and running the city.”

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