D.C. Council member Marion Barry's chief of staff used her official city e-mail today to announce that Barry is endorsing Nate Bennett-Fleming in the race for shadow representative, a possible violation of city ethics laws.
Joyce Clements-Smith, Barry's chief of staff, quickly apologized.
"I was sending it for Marion, and I should have sent it from Marion's personal e-mail," Clements-Smith said. "I made a mistake. I made an error."
She reissued the statement a few minutes later. But she sent it from Barry's official city e-mail account, also a possible violation.
According to the D.C. code, city employees cannot use "work hours and non personnel services, including supplies, materials, equipment, office space, facilities, telephones and other utilities" to "support or oppose any candidate for elected office, whether partisan or non-partisan."
In his statement, Barry called Bennett-Fleming "a fine young man who has been active in the community."
"His capabilities and intellect are supported by his impending receipt of college degrees from Harvard University and the University of California Berkley School of law this year," said Barry (D-Ward 8).
Bennett-Fleming, 25, is a dogged campaigner, rarely missing a Democratic event where he can get his message out. He is running against incumbent Mike Panetta.
Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the Ward 8 Democrats, the Ward 5 Democrats, the D.C. Latino Caucus and the Muslim Democratic Caucus have also endorsed Bennett-Fleming over the incumbent.