Gray transition director releases spending document

Nearly three months after he was sworn in as mayor, Vincent C. Gray has not provided detailed information outlining how his transition team spent the more than $900,000 it raised to pay for his inauguration and other transition activities.

After he was elected Nov. 2, Gray (D) announced that he would forgo public money for transition costs and instead rely on contributions to fund his inauguration ceremony and to pay for staff leading up to his swearing-in on Jan. 2.

At the time, Gray and his top transition aide said they would provide a full accounting of how much money he raised for and spent from his One City Fund. By bypassing public funds, Gray is under no legal obligation to release the information — a flaw in local campaign laws, critics say.

In early January, the Gray administration reported that the fund had raised $669,860 in the weeks following the general election. The administration also released the names of donors up to that date, but no itemized expenditures were made available. In response to repeated requests from The Washington Post, Gray transition director Reuben O. Charles released a summary of how he says the transition team spent $942,448 between the election and inauguration.

The one-page document does not itemize vendors, employees and businesses for several large expenses. The document is also out of balance. When its categories are added, the amount spent is $2,859 less than the total listed.

“You want to see if the money is going to someone who then plays a prominent role in legislation or whatever,” said D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3). “It’s right on the cusp of being campaign-related or directly government-related.”

Linda Wharton Boyd, a Gray spokeswoman, referred questions to former campaign officials. A senior official with the campaign, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official is not authorized to speak for the transition team, said the expenditures are being audited internally. A full accounting will be released when the audit is complete, the official said.

According to Charles’s spreadsheet, Gray’s transition team spent the bulk of money raised paying for the inaugural ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Charles said the team paid Centerplate, a caterer, $271,900 for the event, which drew several thousand guests. In addition to the $50,000 rental fee for the space, the transition team paid $126,931 to Hargrove, a special events contractor, which apparently installed temporary carpeting.

But it is unclear how the transition team spent other funds related to the inaugural celebration.

It made a $50,000 payment to Black Entertainment Television, which Charles said helped organize performances by Chuck Brown, Raheem DeVaughn, the Style Band and the Yvonne Johnson Trio.

Charles also listed $309,540 for “concert support services” but did not specify which company or companies received the funds.

Gray’s fundraising has been scrutinized after allegations by former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown that he was promised a city job in return for verbal attacks on then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). Brown has also alleged that he received payments during the campaign from campaign consultant Howard Brooks and Lorraine Green, chairman of the campaign and transition. Gray, Green and Brooks have denied the allegations, and The Washington Post has been unable to independently verify payments.

Brooks was paid $44,000 from Gray’s campaign funds, according to campaign records. Gerri Mason Hall, Gray’s former chief of staff, was paid $30,000 following the general election, although several senior campaign officials were unable to detail her responsibilities.

According to Charles, the transition team paid $7,500 to Hilltop Public Solutions, a firm run by Gray campaign strategist Mo Elleithee. It paid $3,500 to Kennedy Communications, a direct-mail marketing firm.

Gray’s biggest staff-related expense was for work by Citadel Partners, a strategy firm owned by Charles. It was paid $52,500 between Dec. 1 and Feb. 15, according to the transition document.

The transition spending report includes $34,500 in payments for “professional staff support” but does not specify who received the payments. In an interview two weeks ago, Charles said about $15,000 of those payments went to Brooks.

Glenn F. Ivey, Brooks’s attorney, declined Thursday to discuss his client’s pay and work on the transition. “I want to see the results of the audit before I comment on it,” he said.

Douglas J. Patton, a lawyer who headed the finance team for Gray’s transition, said in an interview that the money spent should be reported similar to how campaign funds are reported.

“I think it should be fairly specific,” Patton said. “I haven’t really looked at transition expenses, but there should be a full accounting of it, frankly.”

Charles, for example, reported that the transition team spent $985 in “reimbursements,” with no other information stated.

The document also states that Gray spent $17,664 on toys during a “charity toy drive.” The report does not disclose the recipients of the toys or where the toys were bought.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.
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