On Tuesday, Doug Donovan, Liz Bowie and Andy Green took questions from readers via Facebook Live over the recent "Healthy Holly" book scandal. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun video)
As questions mount regarding now nearly $700,000 paid to Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh for her “Healthy Holly” line of books, The Baltimore Sun asked readers to send in their most pressing questions about the controversy.
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday’s Facebook Live question-and-answer session with reporters Doug Donovan and Liz Bowie along with opinion editor Andrew Green.
1. So what happens next?
With all the information we now know about Pugh’s ‘Healthy Holly’ series of books, “What’s next for Pugh and Baltimore?” can be a difficult question to answer with investigations underway.
Gov. Larry Hogan has asked the Office of the State Prosecutor to conduct a criminal investigation into Pugh, and the University of Maryland Medical System is conducting its own internal probe. Pugh’s lawyer confirmed Tuesday that the state prosecutor has opened an investigation.
Donovan said it’s more likely to see answers come faster from UMMS’s probe than from State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt.
Donovan called it “probably the most problematic time frame” due to UMMS having a vested interest in some of the legislation being passed.
“To be there advocating for legislation for the University of Maryland Medical System is OK,” Donovan said. “But not if you are getting paid from them for this side deal that was never really, fully, transparently disclosed.”
The book was not used for any curriculum, but it was reviewed for possible in-class instruction.
As to reader Megan Barnes’ question of whether the book is good, Bowie said the school system’s chief academic officer reviewed the book and officials decided to not include it in instructional material, “but they would be fine with students getting copies if they wanted them.”
The auto insurance company created by the Maryland General Assembly for hard-to-insure drivers gave a $7,500 donation in 2012 to Health Holly LLC, the book company formed by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and currently under scrutiny for its operations.
“How was a deal done with the [Board of Education] and State Hospital without any contracts, due dates, or receipts?” asked Twitter user @Nikkisuglytruth
“Can a mayor just unilaterally decide to place themselves on indefinite payed [paid] leave?” asked Twitter user @joedaceytweets
Could Pugh face potential criminal charges and a prison sentence, or are her actions merely unethical if not illegal? Will Pugh’s absence have an effect on the saga regarding the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course?
All great questions that we’ll keep asking until we hear answers.
But as much as we’ve learned from Pugh, UMMS and Maryland officials about the breadth of the mayor’s book deals, it’s clear more will be revealed in the days to come.