On Wednesday, Barry recused himself from voting on two contract modifications involving F&L, citing the ethics probe. He did not recuse himself from a contract modification involving Forney in April. But Sobin said there was no evidence the gifts influenced Barry’ s vote on the measure, which allowed Forney to be paid for completed work and passed the council unanimously.
The Barry settlement represents the first time the ethics board has levied a fine on an elected official. But it is the third time the board has scolded a D.C. Council member for running afoul of the city’s code of conduct.
In February, the board found “substantial” evidence that Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) violated the code of conduct when he intervened in a 2008 contract dispute. But the board determined that it had no authority to discipline him because the acts in question predated the board’s authority.
Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large) was admonished but not fined under a May settlement that found he acted improperly by intervening in a Health Department inspection of a campaign donor’s business.
In other business Thursday, the board voted to issue a notice of violation to former council member Michael A. Brown, who pleaded guilty last month to a federal bribery charge. Brown could be fined up to $165,000 for accepting $55,000 in payments from undercover federal agents.
The board’s censure is separate from any action Barry’s colleagues might take against him. The council voted to reprimand Graham after the ethics board criticized his conduct, but it took no action against Orange. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said he would appoint a five-member committee Friday to consider potential sanctions in the Barry matter.
If he is disciplined, it will be the second time Barry has been rebuked by his colleagues. In 2010, Barry became the first council member ever censured after a special investigator found that he had improperly given a council contract to a girlfriend and directed city funds to nonprofit groups that he created and controlled. He lost a committee chairmanship, but regained it the following year.
Under the settlement finalized Thursday, Barry agreed to pay half the fine within 14 days, with the remainder to be paid in four quarterly payments starting in October. He must also undergo ethics training within six months. If Barry fails to comply with the agreement, he will be subject to a hearing and the possibility of further sanctions.