Gov. Larry Hogan is calling on Baltimore’s embattled Mayor Catherine Pugh to resign Thursday, a few hours after federal investigators raided her home and other locations including City Hall.
Two Baltimore members of Congress, Reps. Elijah Cummings and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, urged Pugh to act — in Ruppersberger’s words — in the “best interests” of the city, although neither used the word “resign.”
“The events of this morning indicate that Mayor Pugh can no longer provide the laser-focused leadership the city needs to address its many challenges, including crime, housing and the opioid crisis,” said Ruppersberger, a former prosecutor whose district includes portions of the city.
Pugh, 69, is under investigation by the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor for sales of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books. Thursday’s raids marked the first time it was publicly known that federal law enforcement was investigating Pugh, as well.
“Now more than ever, Baltimore City needs strong and responsible leadership,” the Republican Hogan said in a statement. “Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead.”
Hogan said Pugh, a Democrat, must resign for the good of the city.
Cummings, a Democrat, urged Pugh “to put the best interests of the City and its residents first and foremost.”
Cummings did not explicitly call for the mayor to step down. But the 13-term representative said Baltimore “needs and deserves leadership that is above reproach and which can lead the City forward in ways that engender the trust and confidence of all essential stakeholders.”
Cummings said that “no one questions Mayor Pugh’s passion for Baltimore City and its citizens. At the same time, the circumstances now require that she also provide an example of accountability for those same people.”
The statement of Ruppersberger, also a Democrat, said Baltimore “deserves a leader who can focus 100 percent on the city. I believe Mayor Pugh’s love and passion for the city are genuine and I urge her to take the actions that are in its best interests and not hers.”
Agents from the Baltimore FBI office and the Washington IRS office executed search warrants on at least six locations Thursday, including at the location of the Maryland Center for Adult Training. Pugh once led the nonprofit job training program, which has listed online as board members three former Pugh staffers: Gary Brown Jr., Poetri Deal and Afra Vance-White. Those three staffers were fired by acting Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young.
A search warrant was also executed at the downtown office of her attorney Steven Silverman and Brown’s home.
The raids mark the latest development in the scandal over the sales of Pugh’s children’s books. The Baltimore Sun reported last month that Pugh was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for the books by the University of Maryland Medical System in a no-bid arrangement while she sat on the system’s board of directors.
Pugh also sold copies of the books to city health provider Kaiser Permanente during a time when the company was seeking a lucrative city contract. Others with business before the city, including Columbia businessman J.P. Grant, also wrote checks for the book.
In all, Pugh's Healthy Holly LLC took in at least $800,000 from local entities since 2011, The Sun has reported.
Pugh has been on paid leave since April 1, citing a case of pneumonia. Young took over as acting mayor shortly after Pugh stepped aside.
Baltimore Sun reporters Luke Broadwater and Ian Duncan contributed to this article.