Jack Johnson could go from running Ward 9 to doing 20 years.
The exiting Prince George’s County Executive and his wife, newly elected County Council member Leslie Johnson, were charged Friday with evidence tampering, destruction of records in a federal investigation, and a bunch of other stuff. This morning, other Prince George's County officials were arrested. But what really got the Internet all atwitter Friday was the underwear.
According to the affidavit, Jack Johnson told his wife to flush a $100,000 check down the toilet (along with her own political career, no doubt), and to take $79,000 in cash and “put it in your bra and walk out or something.” This led We Love D.C. to do some quick math to discover that it is indeed possible to stash 79 grand in a bra, as long as it’s in large bills. (The only place one puts single dollar bills in underwear is in a business much more respectable than politics.)
The Washington Post’s Courtland Milloy offers a sarcastic defense of Johnson, saying he “ought to have a fairly easy time getting the charges against him dropped. It’s obviously a case of mistaken identity. Only a nincompoop would do what the FBI alleges he did.” Who accepts a bribe… by check?
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* Kwame Brown’s At-Large D.C. Council seat becomes vacant in early January. A special election for the seat will be held as early as March 15, and in May at the absolute latest. So is it really necessary for an interim councilmember to be appointed?
The Post doesn’t think so. In a Saturday editorial, the Post said the effect of an appointment would be “to give one person a leg up going into the special election.” And because of “an oddity of the city’s Home Rule Act,” it’s the local Democratic Party committee, not any elected official, that gets to pick someone to represent all of the city -- Democrats, Republicans, Statehood Greens, and independents. The D.C. Democratic State Committee doesn’t just suggest someone -- it actually selects someone to serve.
This is bizarre and unnecessary. Seats in Congress and even the vice presidency -- as well as other D.C. Council seats -- have been vacant for longer periods, without catastrophe. An appointment just gives the favorite of the Democratic establishment an advantage in the special election. Ward 8 activist Jacque Patterson, who is seeking the appointment, says the Post ignores “the open, fair and transparent appointment process that the D.C. Democratic State Committee has put in place to select the interim councilmember.” But should a political party have that much power?
Mark Jordan writes at Greater Greater Washington that “the party committee is hardly representative of Democrats, let alone all the voters of D.C.” District residents and leaders “rightly demand equal political representation in and autonomy from Congress,” he writes. Denying a vote on a local councilmember, even an interim one, makes us look like hypocrites.
* The New York Times took the unusual step of weighing in on a local D.C. governance issue in a Saturday editorial. (Has Jason Chaffetz gone to work for the Times?) The Gray Lady says Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells’s proposal to restrict D.C. shelter to those who can “show ties to the district through proof of a recent legal address or receipt of public assistance” would be “inhumane” and “very bad public policy.” The Times says Wells “should instead be looking for any help he can find to expand the shelter system” and get Congress to pay for it. Responding on Twitter (of course), Wells writes, “Good luck with that.”
* Jonetta Rose Barras’s Washington Examiner column today is headlined “Financial Mismanagers in D.C. -- Part 1.” Of eight billion, no doubt.
* Defeated D.C. At-Large Council candidate Richard Urban calls shenanigans on Election Day operations at Ward 5’s Precinct 66. Urban says the precinct director “insisted that all voters throw all printed materials in the trash upon entering to vote,” which is a misreading of the law. Urban called the Office of the General Counsel, which said it would “call the precinct and tell them to desist from this practice. However, the precinct never did.”
* The Examiner says “more than 50 people are interested in opening charter schools in the District, the most enthusiasm that the school board has ever seen.” There are currently 96 charter schools in the city, serving more than one in three D.C. students. The Post says the District “can approve up to 20 new charters each year. Of 13 applications last year, four schools were conditionally approved to open in fall 2011. In general, business is booming.”
* The Georgetown Dish says new National Zoo chief Dennis Kelly dropped by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh’s “Chat With Cheh” at the Cleveland Park Firehook Bakery Saturday morning.
* Are food trucks good for D.C.? DCentric’s Anna John, and a lot of other folks, say yes. The city’s restaurant establishment, not so much. Speaking of restaurants, New Columbia Heights says the DCUSA IHOP is set to open -- while Borderstan says the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission wants to block and expansion of Hank’s Oyster Bar.
* We’re just past the 2010 election, but speculation is already starting about the 2014 Maryland gubernatorial race. The Gazette’s Laslo Boyd lists Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Attorney General Doug Gansler, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen as possible Democratic contenders. Republicans have a weaker bench that includes radio host and ex-First Lady Kendell Ehrlich, defeated 2010 candidate Brian Murphy, and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
* The Post reports the Federal Elections Commission “has fined the Republican Party of Virginia and the company owned by its former chairman, Jeff Frederick, for problems that arose when Frederick used his company, Gen-X Strategies, for party business.”
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC