Politics is a dirty business [Podcast 4]

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During the two year “break” that I was unemployed I ran for public office in a vacant seat left by the Leslie Johnson, wife of the then County Executive Jack B. Johnson, both whom were arrested for corruption. I did it for the commute, the pay and the opportunity to serve the community I live in. As a Washington Post reporter confirmed, “You don’t have a chance in hell.” (Hell must be full because a lot of the demons are here.) It was as 95 – 5% loss. I ran as a conservative in a overwhelmingly liberal/democratic area. I didn’t try to be anything I wasn’t. I learned a lot. Mostly, who my friends weren’t (pastors). I am not anxious to do it again. It was not just the election of the President of the United States that made us weary of politicians. Prince Georges County has a reputation for crime and corruption. We have had plenty of people that help with that perception.

Tommie Broadwater

Local media are partly responsible for that because most of the shootings and property crimes are concentrated in the same areas county inside the Beltway.
Before the rise of casinos to Maryland we have had more than one case of corruption. Cases go back before my generation but there are a few happening today.

There was a scandal back in 2005 involving accountants, Thomas, Wright and Isom. A Prince George’s County grand jury indicted a former county official and an Upper Marlboro accountant yesterday on charges of conspiracy, bribery and felony theft in a $250,000 shakedown of a county contractor.

Robert L. Thomas, former deputy director of Prince George’s County Department of Central Services, and accountant Paul L. Wright are accused of soliciting the $250,000 bribe to award a contract to install security systems at two county government buildings. Robert L. Isom, 67, of Upper Marlboro, told Prince George’s Circuit Court Judge Michael B. Whelan that he conspired with Robert L. Thomas, the former deputy director of the county’s Office of Central Services, and others to demand and receive a bribe.

In 2015, George Joseph Grillo, age 64, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy arising from a scheme to make it appear that a minority business enterprise (MBE) performed work on Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) contracts, when in fact, the MBE had not performed the work. The conspiracy involved between $1 million and $2.5 million of laundered funds.

Lets talk about Jack.

Recently, former Prince George’s county executive Jack B. Johnson has left federal prison and entered a residential facility in Baltimore six months ahead of his expected release next summer, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons registry.

Johnson, who led the Prince George’s County government from 2002 to 2010, pleaded guilty in 2011 to corruption charges connected to a wider conspiracy involving bribes and transactions that entangled county business officials, developers and his wife, Leslie Johnson.

The once-popular Democratic county executive served most of his 87-month prison sentence at federal correctional institutions in Butner, N.C., and Cumberland, Md., before being transferred to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons’ residential reentry management program, which has an office near Fort Meade, Md.

Bureau spokeswoman Jill Tyson said Johnson, 67, will serve the remainder of his sentence at a halfway house in the region. She said the agency does not disclose the specific locations of such facilities.

The reentry program helps inmates such as Johnson reestablish ties to the community, and it may permit him some freedom to leave his assigned facility to look for work, receive counseling or visit people, according to the Bureau of Prisons website. But the program closely monitors inmates whenever they venture out.

The investigation into Jack Johnson, who led Prince George’s County, Md., from 2002 to 2010, came to light when federal authorities tapping his phone heard him direct his wife to flush down the toilet an illicit $100,000 check from a developer and to stuff nearly $80,000 in cash in her undergarments. FBI agents had arrived at the couple’s home after witnessing Jack Johnson accept $15,000 from a developer.

Leslie Johnson, who was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for her role in the scandal, was released in early 2013. Since then, she has been seen around the county, attending church and working the polls during the Democratic primaries in April on behalf of congressional candidate Glenn F. Ivey, a former Prince George’s state’s attorney.

When Jack Johnson completes his sentence in June, he will have served the longest term in prison for a politician in a corruption case in Maryland history.

But wait there’s more…

A member of the Prince George’s County Council member Jamel “Mel” Franklin (D) was arrested after a crash that occurred Nov. 21., 2016. He has been charged with driving his county car under the influence after he was involved in a car crash that sent two people to the hospital, Maryland State Police said.

Then there is the former Prince George’s County Council Member and Maryland Delegate William A. Campos-Escobar, 42 of Hyattsville, pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy as part of a wide-ranging FBI investigation that has also looked into the practices of Prince George’s County Liquor Board members.

He entered his guilty plea in Federal Court on January 5, 2017.


Campos was elected to the Prince George’s County Council in 2004 and served until his election to the House of Delegates in 2014. He resigned from the House of Delegates on Sept. 15, 2015.
According to documents, officials say Campos was essentially selling county money in exchange for bribes. He has admitted to taking $340,000 in bribes. The former Maryland delegate from Prince George’s County collected an estimated $40,000 worth of bribes in exchange for directing tax-supported grants to certain nonprofit organizations, among other favors, and he even directed those soliciting his help to create fake entities to receive the grant money, according to federal prosecutors.

Check out Glen Ivey if you need an attorney.

I’ll talk about the school board later.


My wife was glad that I didn’t win the position as an elected official. Her belief that “politics is a dirty business,” has never been more true locally and nationally.


FYI- the Upper Marlboro podcast has been canceled.



Rev. Kenn Blanchard is a professional speaker, writer, podcaster, and digital influencer. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook He is the founder of Blanchard.Media and the    
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