By Adam Bednar
"I'm being unfairly accused," Dixon said during a news conference Jan. 9 in the Woodberry offices of her lawyer, Arnold Weiner. "Time will prove I have done nothing wrong, and I'm confident I will be found innocent of these charges."
Dixon was indicted earlier in the day on 12 counts of theft, perjury and misconduct in office. But Weiner said the charges are politically motivated.
For more than 30 minutes, Weiner made Dixon's case to the press, claiming that the prosecution is the culmination of partisan investigations by Republican prosecutors.
"I think it's fair to say from all that we've witnessed, since 2005, that Sheila Dixon has been the state prosecutor's singular personal obsession for the past four years," Weiner said.
He said the fact Dixon has not been indicted on bribery charges shows the prosecutor's case is weak.
"The indictment that she faces is ludicrous," Weiner said. "For all its puffery and very cleverly phrased statements, the single most important thing about this indictment is what it does not charge. The offense that every prosecutor looks for when he or she investigates a public official is bribery."
He characterized as overblown charges that Dixon committed theft by misusing gift cards that were supposed to go to poor families.
He claimed that the mayor gave one $25 gift card to a member of her staff who was facing foreclosure.
"The mayor helped make (the staff member's) Christmas. If there is something wrong with that, it escapes me," Weiner said.
Five other gift cards Dixon is accused of misusing were not handed out, Weiner said.
On Jan. 7, the same grand jury that indicted the mayor indicted City Councilwoman Helen Holton and Dixon's friend, contractor Donald Lipscomb, on bribery charges.
State Del. Shawn Tarrant, of the 40th District, said the indictments give the city a "black eye," but expressed his support for Dixon and Holton.
"They're good people and good allies," he said.
In a written statement, 4th District City Councilman Bill Henry complimented Dixon on continuing to focus on city business.
"Even though one of the defining aspects of our society is the presumption of innocence, it is still difficult to hear our leaders even charged with any kind of wrongdoing," he said. "When accusations are made and the accused stands mute, it is natural -- though unfortunate -- for people to jump to the worst possible conclusion.
"In this situation, however, the mayor and her counsel have not only proclaimed her innocence, but offered specific responses to the details of the accusations. Furthermore, by pledging to continue to put her energy into her efforts on the city's behalf, she has reminded us that an elected official's commitment to public service should always be their primary motivation."