Marion Barry today earned himself the D.C. Council’s equivalent of a trip to the principal’s office.
In a letter, Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) scolded Barry (D-Ward 8) for using his council staff and e-mail account to deliver a political attack on a campaign opponent. The letter was first obtained by NewsChannel 8’s Bruce DePuyt.
The rebuke comes after Barry’s chief of staff, Joyce Clements-Smith, issued a news release on Wednesday denouncing campaign opponent Natalie Williams as “off-point and misguided” for protesting a planned women’s shelter in Anacostia. The release was sent using Clements-Smith’s official council account and included personal attacks on Williams, who once served as Barry’s spokeswoman.
”I am positive that the residents of Ward 8 will see Natalie Williams for what she is,” the release said, among other things. Using government resources for political activities is barred by the Council’s code of conduct, not to mention D.C. and federal law.
On Thursday, the D.C. Republican Committee called on Brown to respond, noting the council’s recent focus on ethics reform. Brown, said D.C. GOP chairman Bob Kabel, “needs to speak up if he intends to lead his colleagues on the Council.”
And so he did. Brown’s letter notes a “potential violation of the Council’s Code of Official Conduct,” given that the release “plainly refers to a candidate for political office.”
”In the future,” Brown wrote, “please refrain from any conduct, or appearance thereof, that may violate” the applicable rules of conduct. There is no mention of a referral to authorities for possible sanctions.
Barry did not return a phone call late Thursday. Williams said she was pleased by Brown’s letter. But she noted Barry has sent political releases using his council account previously and would have preferred a “more serious approach” to handling the incident.
Williams said she is “not concerned about [Barry]’s name calling. ... It’s my hope that the residents of Ward 8 will see me for who I am, and that is a caring person, one who has stepped up to the challenge of leading this ward.”
UPDATE, 12/30, 5 P.M.: Another Ward 8 candidate, Jacque Patterson, has filed a formal complaint against Barry with the Office of Campaign Finance. Congress Heights on the Rise has more.