[guest post by Dana]
Here are a couple of interesting news items involving books. They are not necessarily related, but are similar in that they involve high-profile individuals, books they authored, and politics…
The first item involves a former Baltimore mayor:
Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and tax charges on Thursday a day after she was indicted on numerous federal counts in an alleged scheme involving the publishing of her children’s books, officials announced.
Pugh, 69, allegedly defrauded customers of Healthy Holly books, a company she owned, for her own political and personal gain, including funding her mayoral run, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In all, she earned $800,000 for book deals that Maryland’s chief accountant called “brazen, cartoonish corruption,” according to The Associated Press.
She is also accused of using funds from sales of fraudulently obtained Healthy Holly books to purchase, and then renovate, a house in Baltimore City, according to the statement.
She pled guilty to: “conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and two counts of tax evasion…The facts she stipulated to in her plea agreement with prosecutors included most of the allegations outlined in the 11-count indictment against her… They included her double-selling copies of her books to multiple buyers, hiding the proceeds from the Internal Revenue Service, and improperly funneling some of the funds into her mayoral campaign in 2016.”
What a piece of work:
[S]he was evading taxes on the income she received from the sales. In 2016, she allegedly claimed her income was $31,020 and the tax due was $4,168, when in fact, Pugh’s taxable income was $322,365, with an income tax due of approximately $102,444.
Behind every Healthy Holly lurks a very unhealthy author.
The next item involves the RNC and Donald Trump, Jr.:
Donald Trump Jr.’s new book, Triggered, hit the top of the New York Times’ bestsellers list this month with the help of nearly $100,000 in purchases from the Republican National Committee.
Federal Election Commission records list a $94,800 payment — identified as “donor mementos” — to BooksAMillion.com on Oct. 29. That same day, the president’s son signed an RNC fundraising email promising signed copies of the book to those who contribute at least $50 to the party. “This limited-time opportunity ends SOON,” Trump Jr. wrote, “so be sure to claim your signed copy of my new book NOW.”
The FEC filing was first noticed by a New York Times reporter. RNC spokesperson Michael Joyce confirmed the expense in an email to BuzzFeed News.
“We have netted $500,000 for the party fundraising off the book,” Joyce added.
An RNC official told BuzzFeed News earlier this month that there hadn’t been “a large bulk purchase,” but that the party was “ordering copies to keep up with demand.”
“Using books as a means to fundraise is standard practice from political parties on both sides of the aisle,” the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, added at the time. “Triggered has been very popular among our supporters, helping us raise funds to support the reelection effort.”
The report goes on to say that if the RNC just wanted to resell the books, they could have gotten the books directly from the publisher for far less money. Why pay the higher price to BooksAMillion for the books? Well, to make it look like these were “real” sales.
If you donate to the RNC (or DNC, for that matter), it behooves you to find what your hard-earned money is supporting.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)