Daniels votes in favor of Pugh’s resignation

By KATY WILNER | April 18, 2019

The Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) voted unanimously in favor of Mayor Catherine Pugh’s resignation on Friday, April 12. The Committee deemed Pugh unfit for office after mass controversy surrounding her book sales. 

The GBC, founded in 1955, is a regional organization of business and civic leaders that aims to promote the welfare of Baltimore’s business climate. It is made up of prominent leaders from the Baltimore community, including University President Ronald J. Daniels, Orioles owner Peter Angelos, Under Armour Chief Executive Kevin Plank and the Baltimore Sun Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Trif Alatzas.

The Baltimore Sun reported that health-care company Kaiser Permanente had purchased $114,000 worth of Pugh’s self-published children’s book, Healthy Holly, between 2015 and 2018. The purchase came at the same time that Kaiser Permanente was negotiating to provide health-care coverage for city employees. 

In addition to Pugh’s connections with Kaiser, University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) paid $500,000 for copies of the book. Pugh sat on the board for both UMMS and the city’s spending board.

After these allegations Pugh announced an indefinite leave of absence for personal health reasons. 

Prior to the GBC announcing their vote, the Baltimore City Council called for Pugh to resign on Monday, April 8. The Council sent Pugh a short letter recommending that she resign immediately.

“The entire membership of the Baltimore City Council believes that it is not in the best interest of the City of Baltimore for you to continue to serve as Mayor. We urge you to tender your resignation, effective immediately,” the letter read. 

Similarly the GBC decided that Pugh’s resignation was necessary for the good of Baltimore. 

Although Daniels voted in favor of Pugh’s resignation, he donated $3,000 to the Committee to Elect Catherine E. Pugh in early January. According to Pugh’s finance report filed with the Maryland Board of Elections, eight other University officials contributed to the campaign for a total of $16,000 Hopkins-affiliated donations. 

All nine Hopkins officials donated on Jan. 9, helping Pugh to meet her fundraising goal before the annual state filing deadline of the same day.

Vice President for Communications Susan Ridge, who donated $1,000 to Pugh’s campaign, explained that it is common for people to make a last-minute donation to a political campaign.

“The timing of the donations coincided with a campaign finance filing deadline in Maryland, which is commonly a moment when campaign contributions spike due to deadline-driven fundraising efforts by candidates,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “This filing deadline prompts many people who are inclined to give to do so before the deadline passes, as was the case with my own donation.”

Some students, including sophomore Sam Schatmeyer, are concerned that this support for Pugh stemmed from the University’s ambition to initiate legislation for a private police force. State Senator Antonio Hayes introduced the bill for the private police force on Feb. 4 at the request of the University. 

Schatmeyer explained that he was frustrated by Daniels’ donation to Pugh’s campaign and subsequent support for her resignation.

“That is just so hypocritical... If taking money under the table in exchange for political privilege is worthy of resignation, then Daniels should think hard about whether giving that money is also worthy of resignation,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

However, Ridge reiterated that previous support for Pugh did not have anything to do with her support for a Hopkins private police force. 

“These donations were given by individuals, not the institution, and were unrelated to the Mayor’s support for the bill,” she wrote. “For context, she was on the record in support of a university police department at Johns Hopkins dating back to 2017, when the University faced a severe spike in violent crime around our campuses.”

However, Ridge reiterated that previous support for Pugh did not have anything to do with her support for a Hopkins private police force. 

“These donations were given by individuals, not the institution, and were unrelated to the Mayor’s support for the bill,” she wrote. “For context, she was on the record in support of a university police department at Johns Hopkins dating back to 2017, when the University faced a severe spike in violent crime around our campuses.”

Correction: The original article stated that State Senator Antonio Hayes introduced the bill for the private police force at the request of the Mayor’s office on Feb. 4. Senator Hayes introduced the bill at the request of the University. The News-Letter regrets this error. 

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