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Baltimore Mayor Pugh's book scandal isn't history's first: 5 other times publishing and politics clashed

The investigations surrounding Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” books aren’t the first time a politician has run afoul of public opinion (and possibly the legal system) because of a book.

Here are five instances when politicians or government officials might have been better served by avoiding the publishing world:

1. 1983: Emanuel Savas’ “Privatizing the Public Sector”

Emanuel S. Savas, an assistant secretary of housing and urban development under President Ronald Reagan, resigned July 8 after a Justice Department finding that he had “abused his office” by ordering his staff, on government time, to work on a book he was writing.

According to a Justice Department official, Savas, faced with a deadline from his publisher, asked various members of his staff to update, proofread and type the manuscript for his book, “Privatizing the Public Sector.” A grand jury refused to indict Savas, who called the Justice Department findings “'both frivolous and false."

2. 1988: Jim Wright’s “Reflections of a Public Man”

Several friends of House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas, admitted to buying multiple copies of his book, “Reflections of a Public Man,” to circumvent laws prohibiting the contribution of more than $1,000 to his election campaigns.

“I was just trying to make a contribution to Jim’s income,” one friend told The New York Times. “And I couldn’t give him any money. There are rules against that. So I bought his book.”

Wright resigned from Congress the following year in the midst of a House Ethics Committee investigation.

3. 1997: Newt Gingrich’s book deal

Georgia Republican Congressman Newt Gingrich, then speaker of the house, was reprimanded by Congress and fined $300,000 for “failing to ensure that financing for two projects would not violate federal tax law and by giving the House ethics committee false information,” according to The Washington Post.

Those actions by Congress brought to a close some two years of ethics charges leveled against Gingrich, including questions surrounding a 1994 book deal with HarperCollins Publishers that would have paid him an advance of $4.5 million for two books. After the deal became an issue, he turned it down, opting instead for a payment of $1.

4. 2004: Patty Rowland’s “Marvelous Max: The Mansion Mouse”

Controversy swirled over a children’s book written by Connecticut first lady Patty Rowland, “Marvelous Max: The Mansion Mouse.” The chairman of a nonprofit foundation that supports the Connecticut governor's residence wrote more than $41,000 in personal checks to have the book illustrated and published, according to a June 11, 2004, article in The New York Times.

“Is it a gift, is it a loan, is it an investment?'' a state representative asked. ''Each one of them is a problem.''

Gov. John G. Rowland, who was being investigated on numerous fronts, announced his resignation later that month.

5. 2015: David Petraeus’ biography

Former CIA chief David Petraeus pleaded guilty to charges he had provided his biographer, Paula Broadwell, with classified material including war strategy and the names of covert operatives. Patraeus, a retired four-star Army general who led U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, had admitted to having an affair with Broadwell. Her book (written with Vernon Loeb), “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus," was published in January 2012.

ckaltenbach@baltsun.com

twitter.com/chriskaltsun

A previous version of this story misidentified the state where Patty Rowland served as first lady. Rowland was first lady of Connecticut. The Sun regrets the error.
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