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More Maryland insurers under investigation over ties to Baltimore Mayor Pugh's 'Healthy Holly' books

Recent revelations that Mayor Catherine Pugh was paid nearly $700,000 for her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books — including by a quasi-public health system she oversaw and a large health provider that does business with the city — have raised a question: Where did all the money go? (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun video)

The Maryland Insurance Administration said Friday it expanded its review of insurers involved in donating or selling books self-published by Mayor Catherine Pugh, whose company is now facing multiple investigations.

The state regulatory agency said previously it would conduct a so-called targeted market conduct examination of three companies that have acknowledged providing funds directly to Healthy Holly LLC or to Associated Black Charities for books.

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Agency administrator Al Redmer Jr. told The Baltimore Sun Thursday that he was likely to expand the review.

In Friday’s statement, the agency said it was cooperating with “other investigations being done by the state and city related to the University of Maryland Medical System board transactions.”

Pugh sold her self-published books to UMMS for $500,000 in a no-bid deal while she was a board member.

She has since resigned from the board, and a host of other entities have acknowledged funding books or making payments to the mayor’s company, though all the books reportedly purchased have not been accounted for.

The agency said if officials find violations of state insurance laws, the findings will be included in any orders issued, and those orders will be made public.

It’s unclear how many more companies will be reviewed. Those known to be under review are Kaiser Permanente, which paid $100,000 for 20,000 books; CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, which gave $14,500 to Associated Black Charities for books; and the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund, which gave $7,500 to Healthy Holly LLC and an additional $5,000 to Associated Black Charities for books.

Spokesmen for the now-defunct Evergreen Insurance and Chesapeake Employers Insurance Company have told The Sun they did not buy any books or donate funds toward them. Others including UnitedHealthcare have not responded to requests for comment.

The insurance agency also did not say if it would be investigating Kelly & Associates Insurance Group, which manages insurance and other benefits for companies. Officials with the company sat on six UMMS boards and also won contracts for work with the system and its hospitals.

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