- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2019


When men and women wearing jackets identifying themselves as agents of the FBI or IRS or police or sheriff, your best defense is to read whatever court documents they proffer, open your door and grant them access.

Praying always helps, too.

One of the worst things you could do at such a time, especially if you’re a high-profile elected official, is pretend everything is still cool and hand them additional evidence for their investigation, as former Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson did in 2010.

Federal law enforcers collected evidence of suspected crimes including corruption and bribery in 2010. The investigators heard wiretaps of Johnson instructing his wife to divvy the bribe money, flush some down the toilet and stuff the other cash in her bra. He and his wife, Leslie, were busted, indicted, found guilty and imprisoned.

It’s a hard-scrabble lesson for Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, whose homes and office were combed over by FBI and IRS agents in search of improprieties and money around her “Healthy Holly” book deals and her board membership with the University of Maryland Medical System.

Kaiser Permanente, which does business in the state, reportedly paid Miss Pugh six figures for copies of the books between 2015 and 2018.

She resigned from the board and returned some of the money.

Then things got funkier, with other organizations saying they, too, had bought copies of the Pugh books over the years.

Financial forensics is top go-to for FBI and IRS, as blood-stained gangster Al Capone learned.

Miss Pugh is no gangland broad, and she’s no pushover, either. (Don’t even try imagining her instructing a goodfella to put ill-gotten “money” in his boxers or briefs, for that matter.)

Indeed, however, Miss Pugh must embrace her own inner amazing grace if she has yet to do so.

Here’s one reason why. Her governor, Larry Hogan, said Thursday: “Now more than ever, Baltimore City needs strong and responsible leadership. Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead.

“For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign.”

There’s no question her resignation could aid the city, a former blue-collar charmer in dire need of leadership with a vision that includes reconstruction and tough love of its human assets.

None of the Democratic Party’s lever-pullers have encircled Miss Pugh, and activist groups — feminists, black and white, Hispanics and Asians, the 99-percenters, ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, immigration reformists — aren’t parading in the streets of Baltimore chanting “innocent until proven guilty.”

Miss Pugh’s defense attorney, Steve Silverman, said Thursday he didn’t know where she is.

The mayor hasn’t been on the job since she took medical leave to battle pneumonia.

Wherever Miss Pugh is or was, she knows her political standing and popularity have scampered away, as she did on April 1.

My April 1 column was headlined “Mayor Pugh vs. Catherine Pugh,” and I considered her health issues in suggesting she resign. I’m taking her health into account now as the two tussle.

Catherine Pugh must “let it go” for her own sake and so others can tend to city and people of Baltimore.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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