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OK, So The Mayor Had an Affair–But Who’s That Other Guy?

July 11, 2008

The headline was a lackluster “Dixon Gifts Probed,” but it could have as well read, “Dixon Admits Affair With City Contractor.” The Sun‘s exclusive-with excerpts from a 46-page affidavit in support of search warrants-put some meat on the bones of a story the paper broke two years ago, when it first noticed that Dixon, then City Council president, had voted for (and badgered Comcast about) subcontracts for a company her sister Janice worked for.

“In late 2003 and early 2004, I had a personal relationship with Ron Lipscomb,” Dixon said in a statement, according to the Sun. “We were both separated from our respective spouses at the time, we traveled together and exchanged gifts on special occasions. Our brief relationship was personal, and it did not influence my decisions related to matters of city government.”

In other words, yeah, we had an affair, but it wasn’t corrupt.

The State Prosecutor disagrees.

As most know, Lipscomb heads up Doracon Contracting, a construction firm with its fingers in numerous deals around the city, many of which required tax breaks and zoning changes. Doracon also used Union Technologies, LLC as an electrical subcontractor, despite that the company had no licensed electricians (and no office). No matter, it did have Janice Dixon on the payroll.

The Sun‘s piece was a solid, but some of the most intriguing details of the affidavit were left out. Doracon Vice President Dennis Cullop, for instance rated just a single mention in the story. Yet he’s all over the affidavit, using his credit card to facilitate Dixon’s travel and even dropping $2,000 on a gift certificate for mink coats. According to the affidavit, Lipscomb paid off Cullop’s card in these instances, suggesting that Cullop was a bagman for more than $4,500 in bribes.

In December 2003 Cullop bought a $2,000 gift certificate to Mano Swartz, Inc. furriers, and asked not to put his name on the certificate.

On Feb. 11, 2004 Cullop paid $150 for Lipscomb’s train ticket to NYC so he could meet Dixon there.

On March 13, 2004 Cullop paid $1,518.20 for Dixon’s flight to Chicago to meet Lipscomb.

“Lipscomb and Dixon colluded to conceal [their] relationship by using third person(s) to facilitate the transfer of monetary gifts and considerations between Lipscomb and Dixon,” the affidavit concludes.

So, who is Dennis Cullop?

Google’s first hits are Cullop as a political donor–$2,000 to Albert Wynn for Congress in 2004; $2100 to Oz Bengur in 2006 for his run to represent Maryland’s 3rd congressional district (John Sarbanes won); another $2100 to Wynn (who lost his 4th District primary to Donna Edwards and then resigned) in 2007 and $2,300 to Ameripac: The Fund for a Greater America last October. Ameripac is the leadership pac run by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Democrat of the 5th congressional district (Calvert, St. Mary’s counties, mainly).

According to land records, Cullop has lived since 1983 with his wife Bonita in a modest split-foyer home on Oakbranch Way in Nottingham.

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