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Baltimore mayor Pugh quits hospital system board over book sales

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. (File)

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. (File)

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh stepped down from the University of Maryland Medical System’s board of directors on Monday, days after it came to light that the hospital network had for years purchased her self-published children’s books.

Board positions are unpaid, but The Baltimore Sun reported last week that around a third of the board has received compensation through the UMMS network’s contracts with their businesses. The newspaper revealed that Pugh failed to fully disclose a $500,000 business relationship she began with the 11-hospital network in 2011.

In recent days, Pugh amended years of financial disclosure forms with Maryland’s ethics commission. She announced her resignation Monday from the board after defending selling some 100,000 copies of her illustrated “Healthy Holly” books to the medical system.

The self-published books, which focus on exercise and good nutrition, were distributed to schoolchildren and daycare centers.

“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 a statement.

Her resignation comes days after Gov. Larry Hogan and leading Maryland lawmakers demanded answers from the hospital network about board members’ significant financial dealings with the system.

“It is not just unseemly, it is appalling,” the governor said on Friday. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller called it a “disaster,” and he said “we’re going to deal with it this session.”

In a brief Monday statement, UMMS board chairman Stephen Burch said he accepted Pugh’s resignation and expressed gratitude for her service.