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Hogan must remove Mayor Pugh from office

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. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun video)

It was recently announced that Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young would become the acting mayor while Mayor Catherine Pugh took a leave of absence as the scandal involving the problematic payments she received from health care companies continues. Amid calls for her resignation from various state and city officials and Gov. Larry Hogan’s request for state prosecutors to investigate allegations of self-dealing, there is a constitutional question.

The Maryland State Constitution specifies that: “No person, elected...as Mayor...shall...be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract, to which the City is a party; nor shall it be lawful for any person, holding any office, under the City, to be interested, while holding such office, any contract, to which the City is a party” (Article 11, Section 5). On Monday, Kaiser Permanente disclosed that it had paid $114,000 between 2015 and 2018 to Ms. Pugh for roughly 20,000 copies of her “Healthy Holly” books.

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In 2017, the year after Ms. Pugh took office, the Baltimore spending board, which is controlled by the mayor, awarded a $48 million contract to the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic. At the very least, this creates an intolerable appearance of impropriety. Wednesday, Ex-Officio Mayor Young announced that 90 city contracts were to be reviewed (“Acting Baltimore Mayor Jack Young launches review of recent city contracts after ‘Healthy Holly’ scandal,” April 3).

Mayoral misbehavior, which presumably includes engaging in activities prohibited by Section 5 of the Constitution, triggers Section 6 which requires the governor to remove the mayor. If Mayor Pugh does not formally resign, Governor Hogan should put Baltimore City out of its misery, remove Mayor Pugh, and the city should immediately schedule an election so that Baltimore can focus on its many problems in need of addressing (“Can Baltimore remove a mayor from office? Without conviction, it’s complicated,” April 3).

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Samuel P. Morse, Baltimore

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