When I reported on Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh taking a leave of absence a few weeks ago following revelations that companies and charities had bought her children’s book, and were then awarded city contracts, I thought this would be at worst a messy and embarrassing end to a political career.
That was before her house and office were raided this morning by FBI and IRS agents.
Federal agents raided Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s home, part of city hall and another location Thursday. Pugh is under investigation for alleged “self-dealing” in connection with hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments for a self-published children’s book from private companies that were subject to her influence.
An IRS spokeswoman tells NPR that the FBI and IRS carried out the early morning raid at Pugh’s house, offices at city hall and the Maryland Center for Adult Training — a nonprofit employee center whose board Pugh once chaired. The official would not confirm whether the raids are specifically related to Pugh’s ongoing crisis over her book deals.
Rumors are circulating that Pugh has fled the state, but that is still speculation at this point.
Pugh’s spokesperson, James Bentley, told the media that he hadn’t spoken with the mayor and didn’t know where she was. Her defense attorney, Steve Silverman, is not answering the phone; his office is routing calls direct to an answering service.
But even if Pugh hasn’t fled, she has lost the support of her fellow politicians. Earlier today Maryland governor Larry Hogan called for Pugh to resign. “Now more than ever, Baltimore City needs strong and responsible leadership. Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead,” Hogan said in a statement issued by his office. “For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign.”
image via Jayne Miller on Twitter