Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced Monday she is taking a leave of absence for medical reasons amid calls for her resignation over a scandal involving profits from her self-published children’s books.
Pugh’s office released a statement late Monday afternoon saying she’s been fighting pneumonia “for the past few weeks” and that her doctors advise her to focus on her health.
“Mayor Pugh will be taking an indefinite leave of absence to recuperate from this serious illness,” according to the statement.
The Democratic mayor has come under fire for her Healthy Holly children’s book series about a Black girl who promotes nutrition and exercise.
The Baltimore Sun reported health care giant Kaiser Permanente, which was seeking a contract to provide coverage to city employees, paid $114,000 to purchase some 20,000 copies of the books between 2015 to 2018.
The city’s spending panel, of which Pugh is a member, awarded a contract worth $48 million in 2017 to Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of MidAtlantic States Inc., The Sun reported.
Baltimore’s charter stipulates that City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young will take over mayoral duties in Pugh’s absence, effective Tuesday.