Cropp Jabs Fenty Over Past Money Mistakes

By Robert E. Pierre
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 11, 2006

Mayoral candidate Linda W. Cropp took another swing at chief rival Adrian M. Fenty yesterday, saying that, as a lawyer, Fenty mishandled the money of at least two elderly clients.

"You can judge the character of a person by how they treat our most vulnerable," Cropp said during a mayoral forum attended by more than 300 members of AARP DC, a nonprofit organization for people 50 and older with 80,000 members in the District.

Cropp, the D.C. Council chairman, went further in a news release saying that, in both cases, Fenty was too busy campaigning for the council seat he won in 2000 to look after his clients.

"If Adrian Fenty refuses to explain his record when it comes to senior citizens in the District of Columbia, then I owe it to the District to hold him accountable," she said.

Cropp's comments about Fenty, the Ward 4 council member, did not go over well with some attendees. After the moderator reminded the candidates to avoid personal attacks, audience members clapped enthusiastically.

Cropp was referring to the case of William Hardy Sr., an elderly man whose financial interests Fenty was assigned to protect seven years ago. In 2005, the Office of Bar Counsel, citing a series of errors on Fenty's part, issued him an informal admonition, the lightest sanction possible, for his failure to guard Hardy's assets. Fenty later reimbursed the man's estate $15,000. In another case, Cropp said Fenty's inaction caused a client -- now deceased -- to lose his house.

Fenty said he was unaware of the details of the second case and would look into it. However, he again acknowledged his mistakes in the Hardy case.

"I have always accepted responsibility and said it was something that should not have happened," Fenty said.

It was the second time this week that Cropp, known as a consensus builder on the council, has questioned whether Fenty is qualified to run the city. In a campaign brochure, mailed to thousands of voters Monday, she characterized Fenty's position on crime as one that "puts our safety at risk."

Fenty was the only council member to vote against an emergency crime package after a spike in homicides last month. Fenty argued that the legislation was a "feel-good" maneuver that would have limited impact on crime.

Of the five major mayoral candidates seeking Democratic nomination in the Sept. 12 primary, Fenty has surfaced as the front-runner in recent polls. As candidates compete for voters, Fenty has become the focus of political barbs.

Marie C. Johns, former president of Verizon Washington, has said that 35-year-old Fenty lacks experience for the job. In an attempt to improve on her single-digit status in political polls, Johns challenged Fenty to a debate, which he accepted. The two will face each other in Woodland Terrace in Southeast Washington on Saturday.

At yesterday's forum, which took place at the Town Hall Education Arts & Recreation Campus in Southeast, each of five major candidates promised to reach out to seniors. Michael Brown, speaking of his grandmother, said D.C. politicians have contempt for the poor and the elderly and spend their time and energy on attracting the rich and building baseball stadiums. Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5) promised to hold a summit to address concerns of the elderly.

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