Facing allegations of a sweetheart book deal that paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Monday that she's taking an indefinite leave of absence for health reasons. Pugh was hospitalized for five days last week with pneumonia, the Baltimore Sun reports, and her office issued a statement saying her doctors told her she should take more time to recover; the statement didn't mention the book deal. The mayor will receive her $185,000 salary while on leave. Council President Jack Young will take the reins as mayor temporarily. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has called for a criminal investigation into Pugh's book deal. Pugh is a Democrat; city and state officials of both parties have supported an investigation or even called on Pugh to resign.
Hogan's official request for an investigation concerns the sales of thousands of Pugh's book, Healthy Holly, to the University of Maryland Medical System while she was on its board, CNN reports. The system bought 20,000 copies of Pugh's self-published book at $5 apiece each year for five years. Pugh resigned from the board after the book deal was revealed. The Sun also found that health insurer Kaiser Permanente paid Pugh more than $100,000 for books from 2015 to 2018. In September 2017, the city's spending board, which Pugh controls, awarded Kaiser a $48 million contract to provide health insurance to city employees from 2018 through 2020. Last week, per CNN, Pugh said in a news conference, "I apologize that I have done something to upset the people, the people of Baltimore that I love and care for." (Read more Baltimore stories.)