Is Sheila Dixon in the clear?
It's hard to tell whether Mayor Sheila Dixon breathed a sigh of relief yesterday at the news that State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh had issued indictments for City Councilwoman Helen Holton and developer Ron Lipscomb. For years, it has appeared that Rohrbaugh's probe was aimed squarely at her -- he had previously gone after two of her associates (former campaign chairman Dale Clark and Mildred Boyer, her sister's former employer) and a search warrant affidavit The Sun obtained last year said that the prosecutor believed "a corrupt relationship" existed between Dixon and Lipscomb. But her name appeared nowhere in the indictments, and time is running out on Rohrbaugh's grand jury.
So what does that mean? It's still possible, of course, that more indictments could come before the grand jury wraps up tomorrow. But if it doesn't, is Dixon in the clear?
Not necessarily. Rohrbaugh has been at this investigation for years now and has gone through several grand juries. The problem is, he has to start over from scratch with each new grand jury, so there's some understandable deadline pressure for him to bring any indictments he can before the end of the day tomorrow.
But there might be more pressure even than that. Rohrbaugh can't empanel a grand jury without a circuit judge's OK. After so many years of this investigation proceeding in fits and starts -- an indictment and guilty plea, then nothing; a search of a house or office; then nothing -- Rohrbaugh may want to be able to demonstrate that he's not just twiddling his thumbs so that he has an easier time if he does try to empanel a new grand jury after Friday.
After all, he brought indictments this week not just against Holton and Lipscomb but also against Baltimore County Councilman Ken Oliver. A lot of people in Maryland's political community have scoffed at the severity of the alleged crimes Rohrbaugh is going after, but it's getting harder to argue that he isn't doing something.