Another day, another rock kicked over, and another pile of apparent corruption is unearthed in Baltimore, Maryland. This time, a prominent businessman in Charm City has just now “remembered” that he donated $100,000 to then-mayoral candidate Catherine Pugh’s Healthy Holly book company in 2016. In exchange for this, he received one copy of the book. (Baltimore Sun)
Columbia businessman J.P. Grant on Wednesday said his company cut a check for $100,000 to then-Baltimore mayoral nominee Catherine Pugh’s Healthy Holly LLC in October 2016. He said he received a copy of one book but no documentation of how his money would be used…
Grant described the payment in an interview, saying, “I want to be honest.”
Grant said he had forgotten about the arrangement until Friday, when he had an assistant check the records of the financial company he runs, Grant Capital Management. He said he subsequently recalled meeting with Pugh and agreeing to pay $100,000 to support what she had described as an effort to distribute the books to schoolchildren.
That means we’re now at a total of $800K going into the Mayor’s book company. How much longer until we reach the one million mark? It’s too soon to say.
So why might J.P. Grant dump a bunch of cash into the Healthy Holly coffers? His financial services firm does a lot of business with the municipal government… just coincidentally, I’m sure. Remember that Mayor Pugh sits on (and effectively runs) the city’s spending board. In December Mr. Grant’s firm had a major contract with the city approved. There were other such deals in the past. At the same time, Grant has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Pugh’s mayoral campaign committee and her inaugural committee. Suffice to say, there’s been a lot of money sloshing around back and forth between these two.
At long last, the State Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into the Mayor’s apparent grifting at the request of the Governor. What took them so long is also a mystery for another day. One former city prosecutor was quoted as saying that they’ll be looking into “everything from potential tax fraud, to campaign finance violations, to perjury on these mandatory disclosures, to old-fashioned bribery.”
We’re also far from reaching the bottom of this barrel of rotten apples. Yesterday we learned that Healthy Holly isn’t the only children’s book with magical powers. The local media has turned up documentation about yet another book, “Healthy Herbie.” There was a delivery of 20,000 copies of that book made in 2013 to the Baltimore City School District office. And yet, aside from a record of the delivery, there seems to be no other documentation and nobody can remember taking the delivery or what happened to all those books.
Meanwhile, back at the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), even more self-dealing is coming to light. The Sun reported yesterday that former state Senator Francis X. Kelly and two of his sons suddenly took leaves of absence from the boards of multiple affiliated UMMS organizations. The Kellys have an insurance company that’s apparently obtained millions of dollars in business deals with the system. This entire organization is looking more and more like nothing but a clearing house for people to launder money through.
There are so many moving parts to this Healthy Holly story that it can be hard to keep track of. If you want to read a good Q&A on the subject, the Sun has published one here. That should bring you up to date on BookGate if you’ve somehow missed the story thus far. And you couldn’t be blamed if that were the case. The major cable networks like CNN have barely touched it.