James T. Smith, a top aide to Mayor Catherine Pugh, has resigned from his $182,000 job at City Hall.
Smith, a former judge and Baltimore County executive, offered his resignation to acting Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young on Friday and Young accepted it.
“Jim offered his resignation on Friday,” said Lester Davis, a spokesman for Young. The acting mayor “thanked him for service and wished him well,” Davis said.
Smith’s resignation comes as Pugh has taken a leave of absence as mayor amid an unfolding scandal over her sales of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books to entities that have business dealings with the city.
Pugh announced last Monday that she was taking an indefinite leave of absence to recover from a bout of pneumonia for which she was hospitalized for five days.
Pugh’s spokesman said Saturday that she intends to return once her health has sufficiently improved. But Smith’s resignation letter, which was obtained by The Baltimore Sun and is dated Friday, refers to a “transition” to leadership under Young.
“I wish you the best as you select your Executive Team,” Smith wrote to Young. “From your comments at the Staff Meeting, you are well along in identifying your executive leadership.”
Smith wrote that he intended for April 19 to be his last day but added, “I can stay until later in April if you want me to help the transition.”
Davis declined to comment on Young’s plans to assemble a leadership team.
Pugh and the University of Maryland Medical System have been under fire since last month, when The Baltimore Sun reported that nine of 30 board members had deals benefiting their companies with the system of hospitals they were tasked with overseeing. Three board members, including Pugh, have resigned from the board, while four are on leave. The CEO of the hospital network also has taken a leave of absence.
As Pugh’s chief of strategic alliances, Smith oversaw the mayor’s economic development efforts and a variety of agencies, such as transportation, fire and emergency management. He is a former secretary of the state Department of Transportation.
He also sits on the UMMS board.
In 2017, prosecutors fined a political slate funded by Smith for making an unlawful $100,000 loan to Pugh before the Democratic primary.
In the final days of Pugh's effort to defeat rival Sheila Dixon, her campaign received $315,000 in loans, including $100,000 from the Baltimore County Victory Slate, which was funded by Smith.
During his time in City Hall, Smith was a behind-the-scenes force for a plan to create a more than $50 million neighborhood investment fund to help lure development to some of Baltimore’s most struggling neighborhoods and he advocated for tough tactics to try to keep the Preakness horse race in Baltimore.
Smith also played a key role in launching a dockless scooter program in the city. But he drew criticism from biking advocates after he endorsed removing some bike lane infrastructure.
He did not respond to a call seeking comment.
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Baltimore Sun reporter Ian Duncan contributed to this article.