Lipscomb paid for foe's poll

Developer Ronald H. Lipscomb paid $8,750 for a political survey for a state delegate running against Sheila Dixon for mayor in 2007, according to an account of the transaction in court papers filed Monday.

Del. Jill P. Carter, a Baltimore Democrat, denied any knowledge of the poll in an interview on Monday. She has not been accused of accepting donations over the $4,000 limit on individual contributions. The poll was disclosed in documents filed by attorneys for City Councilwoman Helen L. Holton, who has been charged as part of a wide-ranging City Hall corruption probe with accepting a poll from Lipscomb. Dixon, who won the race, is also under indictment.

"I've never had a poll done for anything. I don't believe in polls," Carter said.

Holton's lawyers said they reviewed grand jury transcripts from Ronald Lester, who testified that he did survey work for both Holton and Carter. The lawyers cited the grand jury testimony as evidence that Holton was being unfairly singled out for prosecution.

Lester declined to comment.

Lester told grand jurors that Carter's campaign "issued a check for $8,750" from "Mr. Lipscomb's company." Lester said that he "thought that the campaign was to pay me but then the [campaign manager] showed up with this check from" Mr. Lipscomb's company.

Carter said she did not designate a campaign manager for the 2007 mayoral race.

Holton stands accused of breaking campaign finance rules by directing Lipscomb and developer John Paterakis to fund a $12,500 political survey by Lester. She is also accused of raising campaign funds without using the type of political committee required by law. Holton had been head of a City Council committee that oversaw tax breaks for projects involving Lipscomb and Paterakis.

Joshua Treem, Holton's lawyer, said the councilwoman is the first person ever accused of the campaign account charge, and that the charges stem from "an effort to find a statute under which to charge Councilwoman Holton following the dismissal of the previous indictment."

Holton's previous bribery charge was dismissed when a judge ruled that her votes could not be used as evidence against her.

Lipscomb had been accused of bribing Holton by funding a portion of the poll in exchange for favorable tax votes for the Harbor East project that he partially owns. He pleaded guilty in June to exceeding campaign finance limits and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Lipscomb dated Dixon in 2003 and 2004 when she was the City Council president, and gave her gifts and out-of-town trips. She faces perjury charges for failing to report those gifts on her city ethics forms and for taking gift cards intended for the needy.

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