Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Baltimore mayor returns $100K from hospital system book deal

Stephen Burch, chairman of the board of the University of Maryland Medical System, talks to reporters on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 in Annapolis, Md., after meeting with Gov. Larry Hogan and legislative leaders to discuss concerns about potential conflicts of interest with nearly a third of the system's board. Robert Chrencik, the president and chief executive officer of the system, is standing by Burch. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

Stephen Burch, chairman of the board of the University of Maryland Medical System, talks to reporters on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 in Annapolis, Md., after meeting with Gov. Larry Hogan and legislative leaders to discuss concerns about potential conflicts of interest with nearly a third of the system’s board. Robert Chrencik, the president and chief executive officer of the system, is standing by Burch. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

ANNAPOLIS — Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Wednesday that she has paid taxes on sales of her children’s books and returned the most recent $100,000 she received from the University of Maryland Medical System, as leading state officials met to discuss how to address concerns about potential conflicts of interest with nearly a third of the system’s board.

News outlets report that Pugh said she’s still working on her latest “Healthy Holly” book and wants to “settle” the relationship after resigning Monday from the network’s board amid questions about the relationship.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Pugh said she understands lawmakers’ concerns about board members’ business deals but called inquiries into hers a “witch hunt.” She declined to provide copies of tax records related to $500,000 she received from the hospital network since 2011.

Gov. Larry Hogan met Wednesday afternoon with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, an aide to House Speaker Michael Busch and system officials to discuss revelations that about a third of the board has received compensation through the network’s contracts with their businesses. Two other board members who have had business relationships with the network resigned Tuesday and four others with contracts were placed on leave.

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

Hogan and legislative leadership met with Stephen Burch, the chairman of the board of the medical system, and Robert Chrencik, the president and chief executive officer of the system. Burch described the meeting as “very productive,” and he said the board will meet Thursday.

“Tomorrow, we’ll discuss in detail what we do to fix this going forward and make sure things like this don’t happen again,” Burch said in brief comments to reporters after the meeting in Annapolis.

The Baltimore Sun reported this week that nine members of the system’s Board of Directors have business deals with the network that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each. The Maryland Senate Finance committee is considering a bill to bar the practice.

Busch said in a statement that emergency legislation to bring more transparency to the hospital system and make reforms at UMMS will be introduced at the end of the week. The speaker was unable to attend the meeting because of a follow-up procedure to a liver transplant he had in 2017, he said in a statement.

“The problems surrounding the UMMS Board continue to concern me,” Busch said in a statement. “UMMS cannot regain the public’s trust without a full accounting.”

Jake Weissmann, Miller’s chief of staff, described the meeting as “a frank conversation,” one that he hopes Burch and Chrencik take “to heart.”

“He hopes to see immediate action from the Board and expects legislation to pass to address the issue,” before the legislation session ends April 8, Weissmann said.