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Mayor Pugh responds to University of Maryland Medical System book deal controversy

Posted at 4:05 PM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-02 08:24:06-04

BALTIMORE — Almost a week after it was revealed that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh had sold her book to the University of Maryland Medical System while she was on the board, she has officially released another statement talking about the matter.

While Mayor Catherine Pugh was on the board of the University of Maryland Medical System, she got a $100,000 deal to provide 20,000 copies of "Healthy Holly" to the UMMS for free distribution to children in Baltimore. A review of a 2015 990 tax form, a financial filing required for nonprofit organizations, showed UMMS labeled the $100,000 expenditure as a grant to Pugh’s “Healthy Holly, LLC” company. Filings for that company show it is linked to Pugh’s home address.

READ MORE: UMMS purchases of Pugh's books labeled as grants

After news of the deal surfaced, Pugh said in a statement that there was an error in her disclosure that listed a gross revenue of a $100,000 per year, when her profit was actually $20,000.

On Thursday she sent another, more detailed, statement:

"As many people know, I am very interested in health and fitness – particularly as it relates to our children. They may not know that I have been a publisher since 1979 and an author for 25 years.

I started working on the Healthy Holly concept more than a decade ago after attending a conference on childhood health and obesity, and, for several years, I put a great deal of time and my own money into developing it.

It was a project that I was passionate about, and I was excited for the opportunity to expand its reach. I recall passing the time by thumbing through the first book before an UMMS meeting. One my colleagues loved it and thought it would help advance children’s health.

Despite all that has happened, I am glad that the important messages in the book reached our city’s children. I never thought this would lead to today, and I understand how it may look to some, but here is what I have done to address this matter:

  • I have resigned from the UMMS Board. It was an honor to serve an institution that does so much good, but it was time to leave. I have more than enough to do as Mayor.
  • I updated my old Senate financial disclosure forms to be transparent upon learning that these transactions were disclosed on one set of forms but not another. I’m not sure why this oversight occurred, but it has been corrected.
  • I have returned the most recent payment.
  • Like any other small business owner, I’ve reported this revenue on my tax returns.

I plan to keep working to improve the health of children in our city, and I will keep writing – with this experience in mind."

In addition to Mayor Pugh resigning from the UMMS Board, it was released on Thursday the President and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System was asked to take a temporary leave.

Robert A. Chrencik, the President and CEO, will begin his leave next Monday, and John Ashworth, Senior Vice President of Network Development for UMMS and Associate Dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, will act as interim President and CEO.

RELATED: President, CEO of UMMS asked to take temporary leave after Pugh book controversy

Stephen A. Burch, the Board Chair, said the board unanimously voted during an emergency meeting to use an outside, independent accounting/legal firm for an exhaustive review and assessment of board's contractual relationships because of this incident. They say the search for the firm will begin immediately.