Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray hasn’t been in office very long, but already his administration is on the defense. The new mayor is facing allegations that his administration has given high-paying jobs to campaign supporters and their relatives. This is not sitting well with local residents considering the city has a budget deficit of close to $400 million.
During the mayoral race, Gray was the overwhelming choice of most African-Americans in the city, who had found former-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to be arrogant, cold and insensitive to their needs. But Gray may be giving some voters unpleasant flashbacks about another leader who has often been engulfed by controversy, the former crack addict and mayor Marion Barry, now a member of the D.C. City Council. A recent poll shows that Gray’s approval rating is 31 percent.
The key witness at a hearing this week investigating the mayor’s hiring practices reportedly flew the coop and is refusing to testify. Sulaimon Brown, who was fired in February from his $110,000-a-year job as an analyst in the city’s Department of Health Finance, has alleged that two people who worked on Gray’s mayoral campaign paid him to bash Fenty during last year’s race and also guaranteed him a job in Gray’s administration. Brown was scheduled to testify at a city council hearing on Thursday. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office also are probing into Brown’s allegations.
According to the Washington City Paper’s Loose Lips column, Brown showed up for the city council hearing but when asked by a reporter whether he would testify, his reply was “Hell no.” Apparently he thinks the hearing is a “witch hunt” being held to ruin his reputation. When called to testify, Brown left the building. He’s just avoiding the inevitable. A subpoena has been issued.
Howard Brooks, a Gray campaign consultant who Brown says made payments to him, also didn’t show up to testify Thursday, but he had a good excuse—an interview at the U.S. Attorney’s office.
(Photo: Fernando Leon/PictureGroup)