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Starting from scratch in Prince George's

Jack B. Johnson, Prince George's County's executive, was arrested Nov. 12 as federal investigators executed search warrants at the County Administration Building. His wife, Leslie Johnson, was also arrested. Each was charged with evidence tempering and destroying evidence.

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By Mike DeBonis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 18, 2010; 8:05 PM

Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson arrived at work on Monday morning ready to tackle his day. "I've just been told that the spending affordability report is in," he said.

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Never mind that not 72 hours prior, federal agents had arrested Johnson and his wife, Leslie, on allegations that he had taken a bribe from a developer and then she, on his orders, attempted to destroy the evidence.

Never mind that he was sharing his day's agenda with a TV reporter sent to Upper Marlboro to interview him about everything but.

Never mind that he did so while wearing a GPS-enabled ankle bracelet.

The people of Prince George's County can only expect more of the saga of Jack and Leslie Johnson. He has declined to relinquish his seat for the final three weeks of his term; she has shown no indication she would decline the county council seat she was duly elected to earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the petty humiliations of government under a cloud will continue.

As the Bond Buyer reported Wednesday, the county was forced to postpone a $25 million bond issue for school construction because it needed to tell investors about the arrests.

Don't sweat it, guys - Wall Street can relate to a chief executive put in handcuffs by federal agents.

But for a county,and a county executive that has made its AAA bond rating a point of pride while accusations of pay-for-play politics have swirled for years, it's another workaday embarrassment.

The day after the arrests, Johnson said he was "absolutely convinced that I'm going to be - that we will be vindicated." But their willingness not to step aside comes at a price for a county that's found it hard to escape an unsavory reputation.

It could be worse, any longtime area resident will tell you.

Twenty years ago, the District found its chief executive in handcuffs, swarmed by federal agents in a downtown hotel room moments after raising a crack pipe to his lips.


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