Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has been on “sick leave” for more than a month as a growing corruption scandal has engulfed her office. But as we’ve discussed here before, there is no provision under the current city charter, state or municipal law allowing her to be removed from office unless she’s convicted of a crime. That would allow her to just ignore all the calls for her resignation and stick it out until the next election. But now things may have changed.
This morning, with little or no public notice in advance, FBI agents, along with the IRS, raided both City Hall and the Mayor’s home, carting out boxes of evidence. (Baltimore Sun)
FBI and IRS agents are raiding Baltimore’s City Hall and the home of Mayor Catherine Pugh.
Dave Fitz, an FBI spokesman, confirmed search warrants were being executed at those locations Thursday morning.
Several people, one of them wearing an FBI windbreaker, could be seen at City Hall.
Lester Davis, a spokesman for ex officio Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, said he did not have any immediate comment.
At this point, nobody involved in this mess has any comment for the press. Pugh is staying silent, as is the acting Mayor who is filling in for her. The FBI doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations, so they’re not saying anything either, beyond confirming that the raids are taking place. A third location, the Maryland Center for Adult Training, was also raided. Pugh used to run a non-profit operation there and three of her staff members are on the board.
The fact that the IRS is in on the raids along with the FBI is interesting. From the beginning, Pugh has described the BookGate investigations as a “witch hunt” and insisted that she paid her taxes on all the money she made from the Healthy Holly self-dealing scheme she’d been running for the past eight years. But with the tax man knocking down her doors, perhaps they’ve found a reason to believe that wasn’t true. If they can’t charge her for all the grifting, they could still take her down if she’s guilty of tax fraud.
Baltimore residents may find the scene this morning reminiscent of a similar story from roughly ten years ago. That was when the FBI also busted in the doors of City Hall and then-Mayor Sheila Dixon. She was later convicted of embezzlement and forced to resign. History seems to be repeating itself in Baltimore.