Baltimore mayor takes leave of absence while embroiled in book scandal

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Democratic Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh will be taking an “indefinite leave of absence,” her office announced Monday, citing a battle with pneumonia. The announcement comes at the same time she’s facing a scandal over a major purchase of children’s books she authored by the University of Maryland Medical System.

“She has been advised by her physicians that she needs to take time to recover and focus on her health,” a statement from Pugh’s office read, adding that, “with the Mayor’s health deteriorating, she feels as though she is unable to fulfill her obligations as Mayor of Baltimore City.”

The announcement came the same day Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan wrote to the Office of the State Prosecutor requesting an investigation into the sales of thousands of Pugh’s book, “Healthy Holly,” to the University of Maryland Medical System while she was a member of its board.

“All Marylanders have an expectation that their public officials as well as individuals involved with institutions that are funded by and closely related to the State, will follow the highest legal and ethical standards,” Gov. Hogan’s letter, obtained and posted by WBAL, says.

CNN has reached out to the governor’s office and the Office of the State Prosecutor.

Pugh was paid $500,000 since 2011 to publish children’s books for Baltimore City schoolchildren, CNN affiliate WBAL reported.

“I sincerely want to say I apologize that I have done something to upset the people, the people of Baltimore that I love and care for,” Pugh said in a news conference last week.

Pugh recently returned $100,000 to the medical system and canceled her book deal. She has also resigned from the hospital’s board, according to WBAL.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young will take over “ex officio Mayor of Baltimore City” during Pugh’s absence.

By Elizabeth Joseph, CNN

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