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Baltimore’s inspector general reviewing contracts city spending board approved during Mayor Pugh's tenure

Baltimore’s inspector general has started a review of contracts approved by the city spending board in the last two years, according to a document obtained Wednesday by The Baltimore Sun.

As part of the review, the inspector general’s office also asked the city’s elected leaders to provide by April 15 lists of board and commissions they serve on, the letter from Inspector General Mercedes Cumming shows.

Democrat Bernard C. “Jack” Young, the acting mayor, told reporters Wednesday that he has turned over records in response to the request, and his spokesman said other City Council members and the city comptroller also received requests. Young was City Council president until Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh took a leave of absence starting April 1 to recover from pneumonia.

Young said the request didn’t indicate why the inspector general was seeking the information, but it came after revelations last month about Pugh’s no-bid book deal with the University of Maryland Medical system at a time when she sat on the hospital network’s board.

“I don’t question the inspector general,” Young said.

“The office of the inspector general is in the process of reviewing contracts that have been brought before the Board of Estimates in the past two years,” Cumming wrote April 9 letter to city officials. She said she was asking for information about the board memberships, “in order to facilitate a thorough review and in the spirit of transparency and accountability.”

Pugh took office in December 2016. As mayor, she controls the five-member Board of Estimates, which meets weekly to approve businesses’ contracts with the city.

Cumming’s letter said she would not release to the public the information elected officials send her, but noted the officials could do so if they chose.

Cumming said Wednesday that she couldn’t comment on an open investigation.

Democratic Comptroller Joan Pratt, one of the members of the spending board, said she turned over the requested information. Pratt said the inspector general had not asked her office for any other information.

Democratic City Council members Shannon Sneed and Ryan Dorsey have separately asked the inspector general to investigate Pugh’s ties to health insurer Kaiser Permanente. The insurer has acknowledged that it paid $114,000 to Pugh’s Healthy Holly LLC book company. Pugh subsequently voted to award the company a $48 million contract for city employee health coverage.

Dorsey said he received an acknowledgement of his letter, but didn’t know whether an investigation had been started.

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