A controversial supporter of Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) is leaving her job with the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Cherita Whiting, a well-known community activist and a stalwart supporter of Gray, was hired to a $65,000 special assistant position in January. Whiting said Monday she is on leave and will depart the agency.
A series of Washington Times articles raised questions about Whiting’s hiring — in particular, question over whether she properly disclosed a 2001 felony conviction for federal wire fraud during the hiring process. DPR’s director, Jesus Aguirre, testified at a February hearing that Whiting was hired by Gray’s administration without his input or an interview. She had previously worked as an aide to D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large).
At a hearing on Gray administration personnel practices last month, D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) pressed city officials about Whiting’s hire — saying she’d gotten questions from longer-tenured DPR employees making less money than Whiting. The Times has published that Whiting told a reporter that she hadn’t disclosed her conviction, but Judy Banks, Gray’s former personnel director, said at the hearing that Whiting had made the proper disclosures.
Whiting said that she did not want to be a distraction to Gray, and that she departs on good terms with the mayor. “There is no rift between myself and the Gray administration,” she said. “If he ran for re-election tomorrow, I’d be right there with him.”
The same can’t be said of her and Bowser. Asked about her future, she said, “I decided I wanted to be able to campaign for our new Ward 4 council member.”
Whiting, a Ward 4 resident, said she did not plan to be a candidate herself but would support “whoever is running against her.”
Bowser declined comment.