D.C. Mayor Still Mired in Misconduct Allegations

D.C. Mayor Still Mired in Misconduct Allegations

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During a volatile Washington, D.C. City Council hearing, former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown - for the first time in a public forum - accused beleaguered D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray of paying him to continue his fledgling campaign during last year’s primary to smear then-Mayor Adrian Fenty and awarding him with an $110,000 city job for his efforts.

“He gave me cash and money orders to maintain my campaign for mayor, cover living expenses and attack then-Mayor Fenty,” Brown told council member Mary Cheh, the chairwoman of the committee investigating the Gray administration’s hiring practices. He even produced copies of the money orders he said were given to him by members of Gray’s team.

Brown testified that he received an unknown amount of cash and two money orders - one for $500 and another for $150 - during a Gray fundraiser at a D.C. restaurant after a debate in August. And Brown said as he and Gray left the restaurant, Gray thanked the fringe candidate - who garnered slightly more than 200 votes - and instructed him that a member of his staff “has something for you.”

“The mayor is a crook," he said. "Everyone knows you’re running a sham.”

Brown, who testified under oath, refused to remove his dark sunglasses and managed to anger several council members during the four-hour hearing, including former Mayor Marion Barry, who is now a member of the city council.

“I’ve never been to anything like this before,” Barry said with a laugh. “It’s so serious,” the venerable D.C. politician added.

According to The Washington Post, Barry, at one point during the hearing, told Brown to “shut up.”

For months, Brown had dodged a subpoena by the council to appear before them, until he was compelled to testify by order of a Superior Court Judge, according to D.C.’s Fox News affiliate.

Brown had made the accusations about the alleged payoffs to the media since March, claims that Gray has strenuously denied. However, Brown was given a $110,000 job as a special senior assistant in the Department of Health Care Finance.

After he was hired, a subsequent investigation by the Washington City Paper linked Brown to a 1991 gun charge, a conviction for unlawful entry in 1995 and a 2007 restraining order against a 13-year-old girl.

He was fired from the job on Feb. 24 and escorted from the administrative offices of the department by District police.

Brown’s allegations helped trigger the resignation or firing of several members of Gray’s staff. Gray’s administration has also had to refute other charges of ethics violations and nepotism early on in the new mayor’s term.

Gray is being investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of D.C., the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and D.C.’s office of Campaign Finance. Gray has retained the services of power attorney Robert S. Bennett.

The Washington Post has also reported that Gray hired a larger senior staff than many of his predecessors - for significantly more money. The Post alleges several of Gray’s appointees, including his chief of staff and city administrator, were given salaries higher than permitted by D.C. law.