Baltimore city solicitor writes draft resignation letter for Mayor Pugh, gives it to her attorney to deliver

Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis drafted a resignation letter for Mayor Catherine Pugh and gave it Wednesday to her attorney, as city residents await her decision about whether to step down in the face of federal and state investigations.

Her lawyer, Steven Silverman, is expected to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon at his downtown office.

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In a quick, curbside exchange outside City Hall, Davis gave a manila folder to Silverman about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday. Slightly more than an hour later, Silverman arrived at the Democratic mayor’s house in the city’s Ashburton neighborhood.

Both men declined to comment about the exchange, which was witnessed by a Baltimore Sun reporter.

Two sources familiar with the contents of the folder confirmed it contained the proposed resignation letter written by Davis.

It is not known whether Silverman delivered it to Pugh when he arrived at the mayor’s house nor if she signed it. The mayor could choose to leave office immediately, resign at a later date, continue her indefinite leave or vow again to return to work.

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Silverman emerged from Pugh’s house about 5 p.m. to announce the news conference scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The city has been waiting for Pugh to decide whether to return as mayor after a month-long paid leave that she attributed to pneumonia or to resign amid a chorus of calls for her to step down as a result of the “Healthy Holly” book scandal.

Outside the mayor’s house, Silverman declined to say whether the mayor has made any decision about her future.

Pugh is under investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor. The investigations involve, at least in part, her no-bid contract to sell books to the University of Maryland Medical System while she was on its board of directors — first reported in March by The Sun.

Under the Baltimore City Charter, a mayor cannot be removed from office unless convicted of a crime. Pugh’s term runs until December 2020. She is paid $185,000 a year.

Acting Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young arrived Wednesday in Detroit for an economic development conference with the National Organization of Black County Officials. His spokesman said Young is scheduled to return Sunday to Baltimore.

Should Pugh resign, Young would automatically become mayor and would not need to be sworn in.

About an hour after Silverman left Pugh’s house, about 30 people gathered in her front yard, joining hands for a prayer circle in front of a crowd of reporters.

Frances “Toni” Murphy Draper, a friend of Pugh’s who is pastor of Freedom Temple AME Zion Church and publisher of the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper, led the gathering.

“There’s been a lot said, a lot not said, but it’s time really for us to pray,” Draper told those holding hands.

The group wanted to focus on the positives, rather than “piling on,” she said afterward.

Draper declined to say who planned the prayer circle.

Another Pugh friend, Betty Clark, vice chairwoman of the Baltimore Design School’s board of trustees, who has visited Pugh regularly this week, also participated. Pugh founded the school and is a trustee emerita.

The Rev. Brenda White, pastor of Allen AME Church, led a prayer for the city and Pugh.

White said the group prayed for “the health, the healing and the hope for our city and for our mayor.”

“All of our elected officials are deserving of prayer,” she said.

Baltimore Sun reporters Colin Campbell and Ian Duncan contributed to this article.

ddonovan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/dougdonovan

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