Candidates Line Up for Leslie Johnson's Post

WI Web Editor | 7/7/2011, 4:46 p.m.

Now that embattled Prince George's County Council member Leslie Johnson (D-6th Dist.) has announced her resignation, effective July 31, the county charter requires that a special election be held after her sentencing on October 13.

Among candidates already reportedly lining up to assume the post are Mitchellville resident, Derrick Leon Davis, chairman of the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, Venus Bethea, a former court commissioner from Upper Marlboro, and community activist, Arthur Turner of Kettering. All three opposed Johnson in last fall's primary.

Johnson, 59, pleaded guilty last month in federal court to destroying evidence after following instructions from her husband -- former County Executive Jack Johnson - to flush a $100,000 check from a developer down a toilet. Leslie Johnson, who flushed the check in the midst of a November 2010 FBI sting at the couple's home, had also infamously stuffed $79,600 in illicit cash in her underwear.

The sting was part of a six-year federal probe that centered on Jack Johnson. He pleaded guilty in May to accepting hundreds of thousands in bribes from several developers in a pay-to-pay scheme, and will be sentenced in September. Jack Johnson,62, faces up to 10 years in prison and his wife faces 18 months.

While County Executive Rushern Baker has not said if he will endorse a candidate in the special election, he has urged Leslie Johnson to resign immediately.

"Council member Johnson has made the right decision to resign prior to her sentencing date in October," Baker said in a July 5 press statement. "However, by waiting to the end of the month, she has effectively delayed the residents of District 6 of valuable time needed to fill the vacancy."

But Leslie Johnson, a former administrative judge, has remained vigilant. Her decision to stay put until the end of the month has roiled the County Council, which voted to retrieve her publicly paid-for cell phone and car. In addition, Johnson's staff has been directed to report to the County administrator.