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Posted at 12:34 PM ET, 08/02/2010

Barry admonished but cleared in contract to girlfriend

The Office of Campaign Finance has admonished Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) but has cleared him of violating city laws in giving then-girlfriend Donna Watts-Brighthaupt a $5,000-a-month contract in 2009.

Barry's colleagues censured him and stripped him of his committee in March after Washington lawyer Robert S. Bennett concluded in an independent investigation that Barry had taken a cut of the contract and violated conflict-of-interest rules. The council also voted to refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney's office and the campaign finance office.

Cecily E. Collier-Montgomery, director of the campaign finance office, wrote in her official order dated Friday that Barry failed to follow the city's regulations for employee conduct, which should have guided him.

"Specifically Councilmember Barry failed to dislcose his personal and financial relationship with Donna Watts-Brighthaupt to the Office of the Secretary of the Council, which he was pursuing the approval of the personal services contract for Ms. Brighthaupt. Disclosure of the relationship would have resulted in the transparency of the transaction and removed any cloud from the contract process."

Collier-Montgomery also addressed conflicts of interest between Barry's constituent services office and "non-governmental Ward 8 councils" to which he had given earmarks. "...Barry failed closely monitor and oversee the activities of his employees and the operations of his citizens-services office, which resulted in the entanglement of the citizen-service program with the operations of the non-governmental Ward 8 Councils. Because of these failures to take the appropriate action, Councilmember Barry's conduct adversely affected the confidence of public integrity of District government."

The investigation into Barry's contracts and earmarks was spurred by his arrest July 4, 2009, on allegations of stalking Watts-Brighthaupt in Anacostia Park. The charge was quickly dropped, but some council members questioned why Barry had hired Watts-Brighthaupt.

Barry will hold a press conference at 2:30 this afternoon at the Wilson Building.

--Nikita Stewart

By  |  12:34 PM ET, 08/02/2010

Categories:  Nikita Stewart, Nikita Stewart

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