Searches by FBI, IRS add to mayor’s woes
Federal agents raided the homes and City Hall offices of Baltimore’s embattled mayor on Thursday amid dramatically widening investigations to determine whether she used bulk sales of her self-published children’s books to disguise kickbacks.
The multiple early morning searches pushed the latest political scandal for Maryland’s largest city to a crescendo after weeks of uncertainty and mounting pressure for Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh to step down.
The politically isolated first-term mayor, who has long been an avid runner, slipped out of sight April 1, citing deteriorating health, just as the governor called on the state prosecutor to investigate allegations of “self-dealing” by the embattled Democrat.
Gov. Larry Hogan joined calls for her immediate resignation after news broke of the Thursday morning raids, as agents with the FBI and the IRS criminal division carried boxes of evidence out of her City Hall suite. Agents also scoured her two Baltimore homes, the home of an aide and a nonprofit organization she once led.
The mayor’s attorney, Steve Silverman, said federal agents came to his city law firm Thursday morning to serve a subpoena for her original financial records. They were directed to a sequestered area where Pugh’s documents were kept, he said, and they did not seek any attorney-client privileged communications. And University of Maryland Medical System spokesman Michael Schwartzberg disclosed that the medical system received a grand jury witness subpoena seeking documents and information related to Pugh.
In recent weeks, Pugh’s fractured administration has staggered from one crisis to another. Yet days before announcing her departure on an indefinite leave of absence she held a hastily organized press conference where she called her no-contract book deals a well-intentioned but “regrettable mistake.”