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Maryland governor calls on Baltimore mayor to resign after FBI raid

Published : 25 Apr 2019, 22:48

  DF-Xinhua Report

File Photo Xinhua.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan called on embattled Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh to resign, shortly after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and criminal investigators from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) searched the mayor's home and Baltimore City Hall office on Thursday morning.

"Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead. For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign," Hogan said in a tweet.

"Now more than ever, Baltimore City needs strong and responsible leadership," the Republican governor wrote.

Pugh, a Democrat, has been on leave of absence amid a scandal over the lucrative sales of "Healthy Holly" children's books that she authored and self-published.

The "court-authorized search warrants" were also executed at the Maryland Center for Adult Training. Pugh previously led the nonprofit training program, according to the Baltimore Sun newspaper, quoting FBI spokesman Dave Fitz.

The mayor was a board member of the University of Maryland Medical System, which spent 500,000 U.S. dollars to fund the purchase of some 100,000 books from Pugh's company Healthy Holly LLC, according to local media reports.

The Sun reported in March that healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente also paid about 114,000 dollars for 20,000 copies of Pugh's books between 2015 and 2018. In 2017, Baltimore's spending board, which Pugh sits on, awarded a 48-million-dollar contract to Kaiser Permanente to provide health benefits to city employees.

The sales earned about 700,000 to 800,000 dollars for her limited liability company, according to local media reports.

Pugh became mayor in late 2016. Her office said that she needed time to recover from pneumonia when announcing her leave of absence starting on April 1. Five of her staffers have since joined her on paid leave.

"She has been advised by her physicians that she needs to take time to recover and focus on her health. At this time, with the mayor's health deteriorating, she feels as though she is unable to fulfill her obligations," the office said at the time.

Pugh was already facing a criminal investigation by the state prosecutor's office, which began at the request of Hogan, as well as probes by the Baltimore Inspector General, an ethics board at City Hall and a state insurance commission.