“I’ve decided to take myself off the radar, get out of the way and let him govern,” she said of Gray.
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics is reviewing Pringle’s voting record. But she said she is confident that the board will find no wrongdoing. She said she voted in the primary last year because she had not officially established residence in Maryland. Pringle had moved to North Bethesda months earlier after living in Ward 3 for eight years.
Gray (D) spoke publicly on the matter for the first time during a regularly scheduled news conference earlier Wednesday, saying he learned of the voting controversy through media reports. He also said he only recently learned that Pringle’s business license had lapsed in 2009 while she continued to operate a political consulting firm in the District.
The mayor said the issues had “escaped” a vetting process. “She said . . . she made an honest mistake. I believe her in that instance,” he said of the primary vote. He added that he needed more information about her business.
Pringle, a Howard University graduate, owned Pringle Communications, but the business license was revoked after she failed to renew it. She said reports of the license being revoked were unfair because she was “a product of these economic times.”
“The mayor didn’t hire my business or my company. He hired me,” Pringle said.
The controversy adds to criticism of vetting done early in the Gray administration that began with the hiring — and subsequent dismissal — of Sulaimon Brown at the Department of Health Care Finance. Brown, a former mayoral candidate who has had several run-ins with the law, says the Gray campaign promised him a job and paid him to disparage then-mayor Adrian M. Fenty during last year’s mayoral campaign.
The administration also was criticized for hiring the children of campaign staff members and Gray supporters. The majority of them have since left the administration.
When Gray announced last week that Pringle would be joining the executive branch and would report to a new chief of staff, Christopher Murphy, he acknowledged that previous hiring mistakes “had eroded the public’s faith in their government and trust in my leadership. ”
Gray said in a statement Wednesday that he appreciated that Pringle took “responsibility for her actions.”
“It’s important that we not allow any distractions from my administration’s focus on its four major priorities: economic development and job creation, education reform, public safety, and responsible fiscal management” he said. “And we must do everything we can to restore public trust in our government.”
The voting irregularity was revealed last week by community activist Dorothy Brizill on the Web site dcwatch.com. Brizill filed a formal complaint Friday with the election board challenging the legality of Pringle’s vote.
Pringle was conspicuously absent from Wednesday’s news conference, which usually draws several staff members. Gray played down her absence and the idea that she was recruited by the administration to fix hiring and vetting problems. “It’s an overstatement to say she was brought in to fix this,” he said. “That’s why we have a Human Resources Department.”
Earlier in the day, Gray had said no decision had been made about Pringle’s future in the administration. He said he wanted to talk to her further and “collect information.”
He said his decision would not await the conclusion of the election board’s review.