BALTIMORE — Agents from the FBI and the IRS raided the home of Baltimore’s embattled mayor along with City Hall Thursday morning as an investigation into the embattled city leader’s finances grows.
FBI spokespeople have confirmed to various media outlets that agents from the Baltimore FBI office and the IRS headquarters in Washington were executing search warrants at both locations as well as the Maryland Center for Adult Training — a nonprofit whose board Mayor Catherine Pugh has chaired since 2001.
Pugh, a Democrat who was elected mayor in November 2016, was already under investigation by Maryland officials.
The longtime politician in the overwhelmingly Democratic city and state has been on leave since April 1. Pugh said she was still recovering from a bout of pneumonia for which she had been hospitalized.
Pugh stepped aside days after the Baltimore Sun revealed that she had been paid a total of nearly $900,000 for copies of her self-published children’s book “Healthy Holly” by companies that do business with the city or state. She had a $500,000 contract with the University of Maryland Medical System although she was a longtime board member. She resigned from the board after the deal came to light, as did several other UMMS board members who had contracts with the mammoth medical provider, which receives state funding.
The mayor also had contracts to sell her books to Kaiser-Permanente, which later scored a deal to become an insurance provider for city employees, as well as the Baltimore-based Associated Black Charities, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican serving his second term, on Thursday repeated his demand from earlier this month for Pugh to give up her job.
“Now more than ever, Baltimore City needs strong and responsible leadership. Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead,” Hogan said in a statement. “For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign.”
On April 8 the Baltimore City Council sent Pugh a two-sentence request to resign. All the council members except for President Bernard “Jack” Young signed the memo.
Young is filling in for the mayor during her absence.
On Thursday, Democratic City Councilman Brandon echoed the council’s request for Pugh to throw in the towel.
“Mayor Pugh should resign immediately. Baltimore needs to move forward and heal from this embarrassment. Baltimore is a great and resilient city, but we can’t waste anymore [sic] time on this issue,” Scott said in a statement.
Since Pugh has been on leave, the Baltimore delegation in the Maryland House of Delegates as well as the board of the Greater Baltimore Committee — a powerful group of business leaders — also have asked her to resign.
Thus far, Pugh has said she has no plans to step down.
This week Young fired three of the seven Pugh aides who have been on leave of absence this month, according to local reports. He did not disclose the reasons.
During her campaign, Pugh vowed to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, but she declined to support the measure once she got into office.
Pugh is Baltimore’s second female mayor. Former Mayor Sheila Dixon resigned in 2010 as a condition of a plea deal in which she admitted stealing gift cards meant for poor families.
This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News.
Regina Holmes has more than two decades of experience as a journalist –editing and reporting for news dailies including the Miami Herald, Newsday and the Baltimore Examiner.