Name That Party: Arrested Prince George's County Political Couple Rarely ID'd as Dems

November 13th, 2010 9:03 AM

In Maryland, Prince George's County's top elected official, County Executive Jack B. Johnson (pictured at right on NB's home page) was arrested yesterday, and "is accused of accepting cash in return for helping a developer secure federal funding."

Johnson's wife, a recently elected councilperson, was also arrested yesterday. The couple are both accused of "tampering with a witness and evidence relating to the commission of a federal offense, and destruction, alteration, and falsification of records in a federal investigation."

The linked article at does not identify the Johnsons' political party affiliation. When this failure to identify occurs, it typically means that the politicians involved are Democrats. As expected, the Johnson are indeed Dems (Jack; Leslie).

Sadly, it is not at all surprising that there is a virtual blackout on the Johnsons' party affiliation:

  • An early Associated Press report found at ABC2 in Baltimore (HT to an e-mail from Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion) has no party ID.
  • In a more complete item at the Associated Press's main web site time-stamped just before midnight, reporter Brian Witte tagged Jack Johnson as a Democrat -- in his 14th of his 16 paragraphs. That's "clever," as most subscribing publications will probably not carry the entire story, and will more than likely not include that particular paragraph.
  • In four web pages at the Baltimore Sun carrying a Washington Post story by Paul Schwartzman, Ruben Castaneda and Cheryl W. Thompson, there is one reference to a Democrat -- the state's governor: "The arrests stunned Maryland's political world, in which Jack Johnson has been a player for a generation. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, described it as a "sad day for Prince George's County and for County Executive Johnson and his family" (the story as carried at the Post merely includes a "(D)" next to O'Malley's name). A casual reader cold infer that O'Malley was taking pity on a politician from another party.

Here are selected paragraphs from Witte's AP story:

FBI: Top county official, wife tried to hide cash


A married pair of top officials in a Maryland county is accused of tampering with evidence after FBI agents said they recorded the husband telling his wife to flush a $100,000 check from a real estate developer down the toilet and to stuff almost $80,000 in cash in her underwear.


... In an affidavit filed in federal court, FBI agents wrote that they recorded a mobile phone conversation between the Johnsons after agents went knocking on their door.


After Johnson told his wife, "Don't answer it," he instructed her over the phone to go upstairs to their bedroom and destroy the check, the affidavit said.


"Tear it up! That is the only thing you have to do," Johnson told his wife, according to the affidavit.


Leslie Johnson then could be heard asking her husband, "Do you want me to put it down the toilet?"


The county executive responded, "Yes, flush that," according to the affidavit, which noted that monitoring agents heard a flushing sound in the background.


Johnson then told his wife to put cash in her underwear, according to the affidavit.


... U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said authorities have tapped Jack Johnson's phone since January 2010. Prosecutors expect more charges to be filed and more people to be charged.


Jack Johnson, 61, has been county executive since 2002; his term ends in three weeks. The Democrat was the county state's attorney for eight years before that. Born in Charleston, S.C., Johnson attended Benedict College and got his law degree from Howard University, where his wife was also a law student.

The WaPo/Baltimore Sun story also notes that Johnson "appeared on the cover of The New York Times magazine in 1992 for an article, titled "The New Black Suburbs'" (article posted here). The article described Prince George's County as "fast becoming the closest thing to utopia that black middle-class families could find in America." The level of corruption described in connection with the Johnsons would appear to indicate that if it ever was, it's not any more.

Cross-posted at