Members of a special D.C. Council Committee voted Wednesday to accept the findings of its investigation into Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s hiring practices and vowed they will use to push for reforms this fall.
In a 3 to 0 vote, the committee concluded the Gray administration engaged in “cronyism and nepotism” in filling several government positions shortly after the mayor was inaugurated in January.
The committee, which spent six-months investigating the matter, also confirmed allegations that a senior Gray campaign official likely paid Sulaimon Brown last year to stay in the Democratic mayoral primary to attack then-mayor Adrian M. Fenty on the campaign trail.
Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), the chairwoman of the special committee, said she will use the findings to try to restructure the authority a District mayor has to appoint senior city officials. Currently, the mayor has free-reign to name about 160 “excepted service” staffers and agency leaders.
“This system must be reexamined both to number of positions and how they are filled,” Cheh said.
Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) called the completion of the report a “decision point and milestone” in efforts to resolve the controversy that has hobbled Gray’s first eight months in office.
“The decision to investigate a newly elected mayor did not come easily and did not come lightly,” Wells said. “But I commend the city council for moving forward with a thorough review of the matter. “
Earlier in the day, Gray (D) sent out a statement thanking the committee for its work.
“When issues were raised, I requested a full and complete investigation by this body, and others, and I instituted policies, practices and staff changes to ensure compliance with personnel rules, directives and regulations,” Gray said. “I remain committed to leading an administration with integrity, transparency and openness and in the coming weeks will announce a series of further measures to help repair and restore the public trust in our government.”