With controversy swirling around Sheila Dixon’s campaign finance reporting – and the director of Common Cause Maryland calling on the former Baltimore mayor to release her campaign’s bank account statements – Dixon was asked after a forum last night whether she would do so.
Her first response was to decline.
“I’m not going to do that. Everything is in the campaign reports. It’s all spelled out there,” she said, speaking to The Brew after the event.
Her campaign manager, Anthony Jones, likewise was initially firm: “We’re not going to release that to the public.”
But pressed further, Dixon ended the interview by saying that she might change her mind.
“I have nothing to hide,” she said, as she promised to discuss the matter with her attorney.
She gave no time frame about when she might talk to her attorney or make a decision about releasing the account statements maintained by Friends For Sheila Dixon at The Harbor Bank of Maryland.
$200,000 Write Down
Dixon was responding to the flurry of amended reports that Friends For Sheila Dixon made to the Maryland Elections Board last year that lowered its reported “cash on balance” from $273,726 to $77,896 – a drop of almost $200,000.
The amended reports were made after the campaign account had been essentially dormant for six years following Dixon’s 2009 conviction on an embezzlement charge and subsequent resignation as mayor.
Dixon last night said she “did not realize until a candidate for state office called and pointed it out” that there was a problem with the campaign reports.
But once she knew about it, she said, “I reported it and it was all disclosed.”
She also reiterated what her spokesperson said earlier, that the cause was a computer problem caused by Dixon campaign software that was incompatible with that of the election board.
“People are Really Upset”
The interview was not the only time that Dixon was questioned on the matter last night.
During a mayoral candidate forum hosted by two Mt. Vernon groups, Dixon got zingers from a standing-room-only audience, including one about the campaign filings.
“You know on your campaign finance reporting you had 11 amendments with a discrepancy of almost $100,000 in a period of almost three months,” a man said. “I just want to know that who ever I’m supporting. . . that you are managing the finances.”
“This room is testament to why people are really upset,” he added, referencing the standing-room-only audience of more than 300 people at the Belvedere Hotel .
Dixon answered him this way:
“When I found out about the discrepancy because of a software glitch when they changed, the state changed from one software to the other, I immediately had a company come on board and clear that up,” she said.
“We worked with the executive director [of the election board] who was quoted in the paper and went through item by item with that individual.”
Then she went on to allege that his line of questioning was politically motivated.
“So part of this tactic, sir, and I’m sorry but there are individuals who are on who are part of the Democratic Party who don’t want to see me move forward. And try to tear me down.
“But I’m not going to allow that to happen,” she said. “Because we cleared that up. Once we got it straight right away because of a software glitch and we straightened it out and that’s what happened.”
Gift Card Question
From a woman who came to the microphone, Dixon got a question about her embezzlement conviction for taking gift cards intended for poor children.
“I’m sorry but I know you from the trial,” the woman said. “Why should I believe things will be different?”
Here was Dixon’s answer in full.
“Let me say this. I made a bad choice. I would still be mayor if I had disclosed the relationship and gifts that was given to me when I was City Council president. I learned from that mistake and, moving forward, I did disclose everything from down to a pen that was given to me when I was mayor.
“I know it’s going to take trust from the community, but I know what it takes to run city government. I’ve paid the price. I moved forward in my life and my family and others who I disappointed. But I also know that my passion and love for this city is going to move this city in the right direction. And so, yes, I know I’m going to have to gain trust from the people in this city. So I appreciate that question.”
Mark Reutter contributed to this story.