Sun Investigates

It's Mayor Catherine Pugh's birthday. Need a gift idea? Here's one for $6,000.

Can’t think of a birthday present for Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, who turns 69 on Sunday?

The Democratic mayor has a few ideas if you attend a party planned for Tuesday night at the Maryland Historical Society on East Monument Street in Baltimore.


A “Cheers to Mayor Pugh” ticket costs $150. A “Perfect Gift” pass is $1,000. And a “Grand Celebration” entry runs $6,000, according to an invitation for the event, a fundraiser for her campaign. (That sum also happens to be the maximum possible contribution under state law.)

The party starts with a VIP cocktail reception from 5:30-6:30 p.m. followed by a birthday celebration until 8 p.m. Special guests scheduled to attend include first-term Democratic county executives Angela Alsobrooks of Prince George’s County, Calvin Ball of Howard County and Johnny Olszewski of Baltimore County.


A review of Pugh’s most recent campaign committee report shows that the first-term mayor has $967,000 after receiving contributions of $393,193 between Nov. 14 and Jan. 9.

Such fundraising in less than three months was generated by a steady stream of pushy emails from her campaign, including the last one on Jan. 9.

“We have SIX hours left before the reporting deadline and we still need to raise $1,250 to hit our goal,” the email stated. “Your contribution will help Mayor Pugh’s administration make strides in areas critical to the success of the City and its people. And, if you donate before the midnight deadline, you’ll be entered to win a dinner with Mayor Pugh!”

Executives at Johns Hopkins University, who have been pushing hard for state legislation to give the private college its own police force, heard the call from a mayor who has supported their proposal since early 2018.

On Jan. 9, top Hopkins officials made a combined $16,000 in donations, including:

>>President Ronald J. Daniels, $3,000.

>>Chief of Staff Kerry Ates, $1,000

>>Senior VP of finance Daniel Ennis, $2,000


>>Provost Sunil Kumar, $2,000

>>VP of government and community affairs Thomas S. Lewis, $1,000

>>Johns Hopkins Hospital President Redonda Miller, $2,000

>>President emeritus of Johns Hopkins Health System Ronald R. Peterson, $2,000

>>General Counsel Arthur P. Pineau, $1,000

>>VP of communications Susan Ridge, $1,000

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>>VP of development and alumni affairs Frederic Shroeder, $1,000

State records show that last year Johns Hopkins Institutions spent $367,104 between Nov. 1, 2017 and Oct. 31, 2018 on lobbying and related expenses. That’s about what is spent most years by the university, medicine and health systems. This year the institution reported 12 registered lobbyists since Nov. 1, with nine registering Jan. 1.

Pugh’s appeals continued throughout February.

On Feb. 8 the mayor reminded her email list that, “There is still time to win a chance to join Mayor Pugh for dinner, but the clock is ticking! The deadline to enter is TONIGHT AT MIDNIGHT!”

On Feb. 28, her campaign’s email sounded urgent: “I need your help today. We are in danger of falling short of our February fundraising goal, and I need your help if we're going to reach it. Our critical deadline is at midnight TONIGHT.”

On Wednesday, Pugh’s campaign sent out another email request for contributions to help the mayor get her and the city’s story out.


“I need your help to deliver my message about how together we are reducing crime in our city, supporting our youth through increased investment in education and opportunity, and lifting up our most vulnerable communities,” the campaign wrote. “Not everyone believes we are making progress, so I need to be able to communicate with them directly.”