Censure Marion Barry, says former AG Peter Nickles

Former D.C. attorney general Peter J. Nickles appeared on NewsChannel 8 this morning for an interview with NewsTalk host Bruce DePuyt.

There was plenty of Nickles’s trademark bluster: He took an expected and deserved revel in former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr.’s imminent sentencing on federal charges. He challenged local reporters to ask better questions. He challenged residents to elect better officials. And he averred how “this city needs outsiders like myself and others to come in and contribute their experience and knowledge and dedication to helping to improve the city.”

Nickles saved his most pointed comments for Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), deeming him “unfit to be in public office” and calling on his colleagues to censure him for his recent string of inflammatory comments targeting Asians.


Nickles, in 2010. (Katherine Frey/THE WASHINGTON POST)

It’s part of a long history of unfortunate, pointed, outrageous remarks. ... I would like the council to pass a motion of censure. I would like the mayor to ask the council to do that, to stand firm with the citizens of all of our wards and not implicitly endorse or be silent in the face of these kinds of comments. ... It is absolutely outrageous, should not be tolerated. He should be brought to the dock and his fellow council members and the mayor should judge him.

That generated a response from Barry, in the form of a four sentence statement e-mailed by his office this afternoon: “Peter Nickels [sic] is continuing his character assassination of me and his personal vendetta against me. Thank God no one on the Council is listening to him. This is a democracy. When the people elect you to an Office, only the people can take you out. Mr. Nickels know [again, sic] this or has he forgotten it; he should just stop it.”

Barry was previously censured in 2010 after an independent investigation found he had broken conflict-of-interest rules in giving a council contract to a girlfriend and directing city money to nonprofit groups he controlled.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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