The old saying goes that truth is stranger than fiction.
It sure feels that way in Anne Arundel County lately, where my newspaper has been covering one scandal after another lately. There have been so many bizarre political stories that it’s been tough to keep them straight.
I’m not covering any of these stories, really, though I’ve contributed here and there with a spot story or a bit of background research.
I’m going to attempt to summarize all of the shenanigans. Let’s see if I can keep it brief.
Alderman Ken Kirby* of the Annapolis City Council was found living in a public housing apartment when city police officers conducted a drug raid. The cops never found drugs and the alderman was never accused of any drug-related wrongdoing.
But he’s been dogged for weeks by questions about where he really lives, whether he was improperly living in public housing and whether he’s violated any laws by apparently not really living at his official address.
Anne Arundel County Councilman Daryl Jones pleaded guilty in federal court to not filing his tax returns for multiple businesses over the course of a couple years. At last check, he’s mostly squared things with the IRS, but he still got sent to federal jail in South Carolina for five months.
After that, the remaining six councilmen have been unable appoint a replacement for Jones’ seat. I think the tally now is more than 100 votes over the course of three meetings. There are various theories afoot as to why they are deadlocked 3-3 between two applicants, possibly related to who might vote for whom if they need to appoint a county executive.
And why would the County Council possible need to appoint a county executive?
Well, that’s because County Executive John Leopold was indicted last week on four counts of misconduct and one count of misappropriation. The indictment — which is well worth reading, by the way — alleges the county executive used police officers to run errands, deliver campaign signs, empty his catheter bag, compile dossiers on political rivals, drive him to sexual liaisons in parking lots and run interference when he was in the hospital so his two girlfriends would not meet.
This is all really crazy stuff. It’s so crazy that even the most creative fiction writer couldn’t have dreamed it up. And it’s keeping lots of reporters on their toes.
I’m not a personal fan of political scandal, but boy does it make for an interesting life in the newsroom.
* I actually wrote the first story about Alderman Kirby’s situation. The news broke on a Saturday when I was on the weekend shift. I was at my cousin’s wrestling tournament in Baltimore County when I got word of the raid. In between his matches, I darted in and out of the gym, making phone calls and sending emails to the police, Kirby’s attorney, my editor and the website editor — all before I was officially “on duty” for the day.