Last May, then–Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned amid a growing scandal involving the bulk sale of her self-published Healthy Holly children’s books to businesses and groups that had direct interests before city government. And now, Pugh is being indicted on 11 counts including wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and tax evasion. Pugh had previously called the investigations into her dealmaking a “witch hunt.”
The self-dealing was originally reported by the Baltimore Sun in March, when the paper wrote that Pugh “did not fully disclose the $500,000 business relationship she started in 2011 with the University of Maryland Medical System during the time she was a state senator.” Private companies apparently got in on the fun, too, with health insurer Kaiser Permanente paying for books in the Healthy Holly series, which is supposed to promote a healthy lifestyle in kids, while simultaneously seeking a $48 million city contract.
Pugh had previously denied any wrongdoing.
On an unrelated note, remember how just earlier this month, we learned that President Donald Trump’s poorly performing Doral golf resort was suddenly and mysteriously added to the Secret Service’s list of finalists for the G-7 summit at the last minute before being chosen? And how, if the the location had been kept, the president would have stood to make an enormous sum of money off the federal government? Funny how these things happen.
Anyway, the Washington Post reports that Pugh used some of the funds from unfulfilled book purchases “to promote her political career, fund her mayor campaign and to buy and renovate a house in Baltimore.” The indictment also describes how books that had been promised to public schools were instead used “as giveaways to promote her political campaigns.”
Speaking of mixing campaigning with personal wealth, an analysis from Open Secrets last month revealed that Trump campaign–affiliated groups have now spent around $16.8 million at Trump-owned properties—a funny coincidence, certainly.
“Our elected officials must place the interests of the citizens above their own,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur in a statement. “Corrupt public employees rip off the taxpayers and undermine everyone’s faith in government.”
On Tuesday Trump, who remains the president, tweeted about the hearings that very clearly describe his attempt to solicit a bribe from a foreign government: “A great day for Republicans, a great day for our Country!”