JUNE 25, 2008
The mayor under investigation for steering lucrative no-bid city contracts to companies owned by friends and relatives has admitted that she was romantically involved with a contractor that she helped get millions of dollars in tax breaks and zoning changes.
Earlier this week, authorities raided Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s home because she is the target of a bribery, perjury and misconduct in office investigation focusing on City Hall spending. As City Council president a lot of public money—at least $600,000—went to firms that employed Dixon’s sister and former campaign chairman. Most deals didn’t have a written contract and Dixon helped craft a way to keep payments to under $5,000 so they wouldn’t need approval from the Board of Estimates.
The popular Democrat mayor has called the investigation a witch hunt with no merit, but damaging evidence is quickly mounting against her. After a local newspaper report exposed a secret romantic affair with a big time developer who showered her with lavish gifts, Dixon was forced to admit that she was in fact involved with the man, Ronald Lipscomb, who owns Doracon Contracting.
Doracon has been involved in several high-profile Baltimore developments that have received lucrative incentives from the city, thanks to his girlfriend the powerful city politician. Dixon helped Lipscomb get a $13.6 million tax break for one apartment project and another huge tax break for a separate major development. In fact, the secret lovers embarked on romantic getaways hours after Dixon voted for the incentives.
They often took extravagant vacations and Lipscomb gave Dixon thousands of dollars in gifts, including a fancy fur coat. Although city ethics law requires elected official to report gifts from people who benefit from public business, Dixon never bothered. This week, she assured that the relationship didn’t play a role in her ardent support of her boyfriend’s mega projects.
In fact, she released a statement explaining that both parties were separated from their respective spouses at the time and that the brief relationship was personal and did not influence her decisions related to matters of city government. Sounds like a desperate, last-minute explanation from a disgraced politician.
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