[Fact Check]: Vincent Orange claims to be ‘clean’ in produce stand interference

“And then, I helped the people over in the market. They were going to lay off 40 people during Christmas, and all we had to do was clean it up. Talked to the Director of Health. We got it cleaned up. Got the inspection the next day. Those 40 people worked. And then they came after me, but the council turned it loose because they knew that law’s a bad law. So, Vincent Orange is clean, I’m clean. So thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight.”


—Vincent B. Orange, at-large Democratic Council member and 2014 D.C. mayoral candidate

Truth Teller rating: 

D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At-Large) had the distinction last year of becoming the first D.C. public official to be formally admonished by the city’s new ethics board.

Less severe than a reprimand or censure, the admonishment was the product of a negotiated settlement between the board and Orange, who admitted to breaching the council’s Code of Conduct by intervening in a health department inspection of a market run by campaign donor Sam Wang.

According to the board’s report, Orange arrived at the market in Dec. 2012 just as a city health inspector attempted to close it because of a rodent infestation. Orange asked that the Florida Avenue Market be allowed to remain open. He then demanded to speak with the inspector’s supervisors, and the inspectors left the produce stand without shutting it. Inspectors returned later that day and issued the closure notice, which was soon rescinded after the owner took steps to correct the problem.

By delaying the business’s closure, however, the ethics board ruled that Orange abused the “prestige of his office.”

To settle the matter, Orange agreed to attend ethics training and refrain from such abuse again. “In the past, this has been clearly acceptable constituent service, but now you have people looking at it a different way,” Orange told a Post reporter at the time. ”I don’t think it reflects poorly on me at all.”

Last month, Orange told The Post that the ethics ruling is no longer relevant. He displayed a letter from the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability that says because he has fulfilled the required ethics training, “your request that your record with this Office be expunged is granted.”

Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.
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Aaron C. Davis · March 7