Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

A timeline of the Catherine Pugh scandal

Here is a rundown of events that have transpired amid the controversy surrounding Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s financial relationships with members of the board of directors of the University of Maryland Medical System and her self-published series of “Healthy Holly” children’s books:

Feb. 4
Bill from Sen. Jill P. Carter,  D-Baltimore city to require the University of Maryland Medical System board to adopt new conflict of interest rules has its first reading in the Senate Finance Committee.

March 13
The Baltimore Sun reports nine members of the UMMS board have deals with the hospital network benefiting their private companies, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each.

March 14
Carter’s bill has a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee, a day after The Sun report.

This March 2019 photo taken in Baltimore, shows copies of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh's self-published "Healthy Holly" illustrated paperbacks for children. Baltimore's embattled mayor announced Monday, April 1 that she is taking an indefinite leave of absence, just as a political scandal intensifies over what critics call a "self-dealing" book-sales arrangement that threatens her political career. The various officials' calls came shortly after Kaiser Permanente disclosed that it paid $114,000, between 2015 and 2018, for roughly 20,000 copies of Pugh's children's books. And it came about two weeks after news broke that since 2011, Pugh has received $500,000 selling her books to the University of Maryland Medical System, a $4 billion hospital network that's one of the largest private employers in the state. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

“Healthy Holly” series of books. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

March 18
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh steps down from the UMMS board after the revelation that the network of hospitals had bought 100,000 copies her self-published children’s book, “Healthy Holly.”

March 19
John W. Dillon and Robert L. Pevenstein resign from the board. Four other members of the board with potential conflicts — August J. Chiasera, former state senator and insurance broker Francis X. Kelly, James A. Soltesz and Walter A. Tilley Jr. — take voluntary leaves of absence pending a review of the system’s governance practices.

March 20
Pugh says she has returned $100,000 to UMMS.

March 21
UMMS President and CEO Robert A. Chrencik takes a leave of absence. John W. Ashworth begins serving as interim president and CEO.

March 28
Pugh holds a news conference to apologize for creating an appearance of impropriety. She tells reporters she “never intended to do anything that could not stand up to scrutiny.” She shows reporters letters, shipping documents for books sent to Baltimore schools and children’s clothes designed as part of the “Healthy Holly” book series as proof of the product’s existence.

April 1
Kaiser Permanente confirms it paid Pugh roughly $114,000 for the books during a period when it sought a city contract. Also, the nonprofit Associated Black Charities, which manages the city’s Children and Youth Fund, collected nearly $90,000 from five entities, including CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, another insurer of the city, to buy the books.

Comptroller Peter Franchot calls for Pugh to resign in a social media post, in which he linked to an article about the Kaiser book purchase.
Gov. Larry Hogan makes public a letter to State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt in which he calls for an investigation into the no-contract deal between the University of Maryland Medical System and Pugh.

April 2
Pugh begins a leave of absence to recover from pneumonia. City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young becomes ex officio mayor, as mandated in the city charter.

Nygren Consulting, a business management consultant in California, begins its review of business dealings between the University of Maryland Medical Systems and members of its board.

Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. calls Pugh’s situation unfortunate, but stops short of calling for her resignation, saying she should be given time to recover from her pneumonia.

Acting Baltimore Mayor Jack Young talks to reporters after meeting with state senators who represent Baltimore on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 in Annapolis. Young has become acting mayor after Catherine Pugh abruptly announced Monday that she's taking a leave of absence to "focus on her health" amid a political scandal about involving book sales. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

Ex officio Mayor Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

April 3
The Daily Record reports at least two city council members have requested Baltimore City Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming to look into the payments from Kaiser Permanente for the books. Cumming says she could not confirm or deny an ongoing investigation.

Johns Hopkins Health System says one of its employees was approached by Pugh, while she was still a state senator, about buying the books. The health system didn’t buy the books. Also, all five companies that bought the
“Healthy Holly” books through Associated Black Charities are disclosed by the Baltimore City Ethics Board.

Franchot blasts Nygren Consulting as being “independent in name only,” saying they can’t get to the bottom of the scandal, but rather to make recommendations about how not to have scandals.

April 4
Chicago-based investment firm Ariel Investments says it purchased copies of the“Healthy Holly” books to distribute to attendees at a 2013 leadership conference where Pugh was speaking. In 2018, the city Board of Estimates, where Pugh controls three of the five votes, approved a $40 million investment of Employees’ Retirement System funds with Ariel that included $272,000 in annual fees. Wendy Fox, the firm’s chief compliance officer, says there was no way it could have known in 2013 that Pugh was even thinking about running for mayor.

April 8
The entire Baltimore City Council (except for Young, who is serving as ex officio mayor) signs a letter urging Pugh to step down. Pugh’s office issues a statement saying she intends to return to office when her health allows. The city’s House delegation announces its support of the letter from the council.

April 9
The Baltimore Sun reports that Ashworth is stopping the payment of executive bonuses that are typically approved by the board of directors until an independent review is finished.

April 10
Former Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah announces a run for mayor, making him the first Democrat of note to launch a campaign.

April 11
Young orders an audit of a city contract for management of the Children and Youth Fund.  Associated Black Charities, which manages the fund, had purchased $80,000 worth of the books.

April 12
The Greater Baltimore Committee calls on Pugh to resign. Donald Fry, the president and CEO of the committee, said the decision to do so was difficult, but that the board determined that Pugh should resign so the city can move on.

April 18
Carter’s bill mandating stricter ethics and disclosure requirements for members of the UMMS board is signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan. The law also gives Hogan the power to sweep the board clean.

April 19
The Daily Record reports Pugh’s campaign received $200,000 in loans from fellow UMMS board members in mid-April of 2016 during the Democratic primary election for mayor.

April 22
Young terminates the employment of three of Pugh’s aides, Gary Brown Jr., Afra White and Poetri Deal.

April 25
FBI and IRS agents raid Pugh’s homes and offices and serves a subpoena for her financial records at the office of her attorney, Steve Silverman. Gov. Hogan calls for Pugh to resign. Pugh is described by Silverman, as distraught and exhausted, still battling the pneumonia that resulted in her taking leave on April 2, and not fit to make decisions about her future.

April 26
Chrencik resigns as president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System.

April 29
Four bills to change the city council, including one that would ask city voters  to empower the council to remove a mayor, and another that would create a city administrator to run much of city government, are introduced at the Baltimore City Council. Those measures, if approved, would require approval by voters in the 2020 general election.

Attorney, Steven Silverman, of Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White announces Mayor Catherine Pugh’s resignation on Thursday. (THe Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Attorney, Steven Silverman, of Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White announces Mayor Catherine Pugh’s resignation on Thursday. (THe Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

May 1
Pugh’s attorney, Steve Silverman, meets with the mayor at her Ashburton home for about 90 minutes, then tells reporters a decision about Pugh’s future will be announced May 2.

May 2

Silverman says Pugh has resigned; Young automatically becomes mayor of Baltimore.


To purchase a reprint of this article, contact reprints@thedailyrecord.com.