Marion Barry's former campaign manager said today that he is furious the council member used campaign funds last year to pay his former girlfriend a $500 contracting fee.
Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, who is at the center of recent stalking charges against Barry, has been telling reporters she worked as a political consultant on his 2008 re-election campaign. Campaign finance records show the Barry for Ward 8 Committee paid Watts-Brighthaupt $500 on Oct. 29. The two were romantically involved at the time.
Joe Louis Ruffin Jr., the campaign manager, said in an interview today that "she didn't do any work." He was stunned to learn she had been paid.
"If she was a political consultant, and I was the campaign manager, one would think I would have known she was working for me, and I would know she was getting paid and how much she was getting paid," Ruffin said. "I saw her one time at a fundraiser, and another time she was riding in the passenger seat of his BMW."
Ruffin, a veteran strategist, became estranged from Barry after his primary win because of a dispute over money.
Ruffin noted that Barry paid Watts-Brighhaupt in late October -- six weeks after the primary. Barry did not face a serious opponent in the general election.
"There was no work to do in the general," Ruffin said.
Barry declined to speak to reporters today. But the $500 payment to Watts-Brighthaupt from Barry's campaign occurred one week after Barry hired her as a $5,000-a-month contractor to his taxpayer-funded council office.
At a press conference last night, Barry spokeswoman Natalie Williams said Barry gave Watts-Brighthaupt the city contract because the financially strapped Watts-Brighthaupt "was about to lose her house, her car, due to her inability to find employment."
"It totally (upsets) me ... that he would take $500 from the campaign and give it to someone who did not work in the primary," Ruffin said. "There are people out there who I know who didn't receive their just money, who worked all summer long."
Watts-Brighthaupt was unavailable to comment today.
-- Tim Craig