September 22, 2013

The Sept. 19 editorial “The D.C. Council’s moral moment” missed a critical concern regarding the council’s vote to rebuke Ward 8 council member Marion Barry (D).

All members of the council supported the punishment issued to Mr. Barry by the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA), which imposed a $13,600 fine and censure and mandated ethics training. All members accepted the decision to have the council also censure Mr. Barry. The departure from unanimity occurred when the ad hoc committee investigating the matter, which was made up of council members Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), David Grosso (I-At Large) and Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), recommended removing Mr. Barry as the chairman of the Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs. This was troubling in light of The Post’s earlier reporting that “should Barry lose the committee gavel, it could pass to Grosso or Bonds, who are the council’s most junior members and do not lead any committees” [“Censure sought again for Barry,” Metro, Sept. 17]. BEGA, which was void of any such conflict of interest in issuing its punishment, did not recommend taking away the committee chairmanship, which also results in termination of committee staff members.

Our moral moment included punishing Mr. Barry by supporting the BEGA pronouncement and a council censure — while avoiding the appearance of impropriety or conflicts of interest.

Vincent B. Orange and Jim Graham, Washington

The writers, both Democrats, are members of the D.C. Council.