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The Latest: Medical system board reform bill advances

April 2, 2019

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Latest on the Baltimore mayor’s deals to sell her self-published children’s books (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

The Maryland House of Delegates has advanced a measure to reform the University of Maryland Medical System’s board in response to a scandal involving self-dealing book sales that has engulfed Baltimore’s mayor.

The House gave the bill preliminary approval Tuesday.

The measure would require an independent audit and bar board members or businesses affiliated with them from getting contracts without a competitive bidding process.

The bill would end the terms of all 30 board members, who could reapply but would need Senate confirmation. Each board member would have to submit financial disclosure forms, and the board would be required to adopt a policy on conflicts of interest.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has taken a leave of absence after UMMS paid her $500,000 for 100,000 copies of her books.

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Baltimore school officials say they’ve pieced together more details about copies of the embattled mayor’s “Healthy Holly” children’s books they received.

Baltimore City Public Schools released a statement Tuesday detailing efforts to find out what happened to the books, noting that many records before 2015-2016 have been destroyed.

The system says staffers have a “high degree of confidence” that “Exercising Is Fun” was delivered in 2011 and remember it being distributed in 2011 and 2012, but no documentation about its distribution or copies were found.

Officials say FedEx receipts show they received “A Healthy Start for Herbie” in 2013 and “Fruits Come in Colors Like a Rainbow” in 2015. Only 8,700 copies of the 19,500 copies of the latter that were mentioned in a document were found. Officials say Pugh staffers retrieved books from the warehouse several times, but there’s no documentation of when or how many.

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9 a.m.

Baltimore’s mayor repeatedly sponsored legislation as a Maryland state senator that would’ve benefited a hospital system that bought her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books in a seemingly symbiotic deal.

The Baltimore Sun reports Catherine Pugh sponsored and co-sponsored bills between 2011 and 2016 that would’ve benefited the University of Maryland Medical System, which was paying her hundreds of thousands of dollars through a no-bid book deal. Eight bills sought to lessen the financial impact of malpractice lawsuits.

Health care provider Kaiser Permanente also spent $100,000 on Pugh’s books after she became mayor, when the company was seeking a contract with the city.

Pugh’s office says she’s now on an indefinite leave of absence due to deteriorating health. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has asked the state prosecutor to investigate.

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Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com