Christian Carter, mayoral candidate, is being sued for unpaid office rent

(Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post)
(Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post)

Former city contractor Christian A. Carter launched his long-shot mayoral campaign Saturday amid questions about money he owes his subcontractors and his own claims that the city hasn’t made good on payments owed to him.

His business issues, as it happens, go beyond the contracting disputes. Court records indicate Carter’s business, New Columbia Enterprises, was evicted from its offices in March and is now being sued for unpaid rent.

D.C. Superior Court filings show that Carter held a sublease on an office space at the National Housing Center at 15th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW. The lessee first sued Carter’s firm and another firm in December, seeking unpaid rent and late fees of more than $8,000, plus costs and interest. Carter, according to court records, failed to appear at a January hearing, and default judgment was entered against him. An eviction writ was issued in February and executed on March 20.

Carter and his company were then sued in April by the lessee, alleging they defaulted on the sublease, which ran through the end of 2014 and involved rent payments of more than $8,000 per month, plus $400 monthly for parking spaces. Carter and another sublessor, the lawsuit says, haven’t paid since December. A hearing in the case is set for Aug. 23.

Carter was also sued in small claims court by SunTrust Bank in February over a $3,147 checking overdraft. The matter was quickly settled, according to court records.

Carter, reached on Wednesday, initially resisted discussing the lawsuits. “I don’t want to discuss any of that right now,” he said. “There are two TV stations that want to talk to me. I’m going to do it all at one time. … Keep going; keep putting it out, but I don’t want to comment on it.”

But he went on to acknowledge the eviction and blamed it on political machinations: “Yes, I’ve been evicted. Yes, my business is dying, has died. But it was not because I could not manage my affairs.” Rather, Carter said, “I’ve been isolated; I’ve been targeted; I’ve been assassinated by this mayor’s situation.”

Officials for Mayor Vincent C. Gray, including his chief of staff Christopher Murphy, acknowledge intervening in Carter’s situation, including setting up a meeting between Carter and Murphy. But Murphy said this week that Carter did not respond to communications attempting to settle the dispute. Another city official involved in the matter said the eviction complicated the matter, since checks due to Carter’s company were sent to the nonexistent office and were returned to the city. Carter, Murphy said, did not respond to follow-ups, forcing an official to visit Carter’s campaign kickoff Saturday to have him sign an affidavit allowing the city to hold the checks for pickup.

Carter bristled at the suggestion that it is his fault the dispute has not been resolved, though he acknowledged walking out on the meeting with Murphy: “I went to meet with them about my payment issues, and I went to meet with them about my contract issues,” he said. “They didn’t want to discuss the contract issues, which was hurtful to me.” If the Gray administration were serious about paying him, he said, they’d wire him the money.

Despite his claims that the city owes him roughly $100,000, Carter said he has not entertained filing a lawsuit against the city. Rather, he said, he plans to seek justice through his upstart campaign: “Right now, it’s bigger than me.”

Carter said he’s moving full steam ahead with his campaign and has purchased 150 yard signs with his personal funds. “I’m going to make sure this does not happen to any CBE in D.C. ever again,” he said.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis | July 24, 2013