‘No 25th Amendment’: Authority to remove Baltimore mayor limited

Embattled Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh remains in office while out on medical leave, and there’s no legal mechanism to remove her due to illness or incapacity as the leader of the Maryland city.

“There’s no equivalent of the 25th amendment under the Baltimore charter,” said Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University Matthew Crenson, referring to the amendment that allows for the removal of a U.S. president due to illness.

Pugh’s attorney Steven Silverman told reporters Thursday Pugh was not “lucid” and was too ill to make any decisions about her future.

Pugh has been on indefinite leave since April 1 as she is treated for pneumonia. Silverman said she was still recovering.

Crenson said the Baltimore City charter leaves no options for members of the city council who have called for Pugh’s resignation.

“The only way a mayor can be removed from office is by conviction of a crime, or a guilty plea to a crime,” Crenson said.

“There’s no equivalent of impeachment or removing someone because they’re unable to function. So this is a dead end as far as the city council is concerned. … I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in next year’s election there are some items on the ballot to revise the charter to provide other means for removing mayors.”

Crenson said in other states, such as Michigan, the governor has the power to remove a mayor if that mayor is judged to be incompetent or incapable.

“But in Maryland there’s no such provision” said Crenson.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called for Pugh to resign on Thursday, the same day Pugh’s two homes and City Hall office were searched by FBI agents.

Pugh has been under investigation for her “Healthy Holly” books. She had a $500,000 no-bid book deal with the University of Maryland Medical System while she served as a member of that board.

Robert Chrencik, president and CEO of UMMS, announced on Friday he was stepping down.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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