September 6, 2011

DISTRICT MAYOR Vincent C. Gray’s hopes of turning the page on the hiring missteps that have tarnished his administration proved to be short-lived, given questions about one of the two aides he brought in to restore confidence. Not only are there allegations that Mr. Gray’s new deputy chief of staff voted illegally, but there are also questions about the District-based consulting firm she founded. Further inquiry is warranted, as is yet another look at how the administration vets its hires.

Days after Mr. Gray announced the appointment of Andrea D. Pringle as his deputy chief of staff, a D.C. government watchdog group alleged that her vote in last year’s Democratic primary violated D.C. election law. Ms. Pringle and new chief of staff Christopher Murphy were named last Tuesday as part of Mr. Gray’s effort to restore confidence in his ability to govern. According to a complaint filed with election officials by D.C. Watch’s Dorothy Brizill, Ms. Pringle voted in the 2010 September primary while living in Maryland; this was particularly egregious in Ms. Brizill’s view because of Ms. Pringle’s political experience. Ms. Pringle issued a statement saying she voted “with the understanding that since I had not severed ties with my community nor established residency in Maryland, I should vote at the precinct where I had voted for the past eight years.” Yet she opted not to vote in April’s election for an at-large D.C. Council seat because, as she told the Examiner, “In my mind, I was in Maryland by then.”

Residency may sometimes be a complicated legal issue, but it’s not a state of mind. That’s why Ms. Pringle needs to be more forthcoming about the circumstances of her move to Maryland. Why, at the time of her move, did she change the apartment number, but not the street address or town of residency, on her D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics registration? Where did she pay taxes? Where was she registered to drive? Did she establish accounts with utilities?

Meanwhile, the firm she touts on her résumé,Pringle Communications Group Inc., is not in good standing with the D.C. government. Records from the city’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs show the firm’s articles of organization were revoked in November 2009 because it failed to file required reports. Yet even with its corporate status revoked, it apparently — according to information about recent clients on Ms. Pringle’s résumé — continued to operate. When we sought to ask why this might be, Ms. Pringle declined to speak with us.

D.C. Deputy Mayor Paul Quander acknowledged Tuesday to NewsChannel 8’s Bruce DePuyt that it was “an error” for Ms. Pringle to vote in the District while living in Maryland and that there were “shortcomings” in the vetting process. Nonetheless, he said, “we . . . are ready to move on.” As much as the administration might wish it, the issues surrounding Ms. Pringle are not so easily dismissed.