D.C. Mayor, 11 Top Aides Criticized

By Yolanda Woodlee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 30, 2002

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and 11 former and current aides violated the District's personnel rules when they raised $ 1.5 million for political and civic events using government resources and time, the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance reported yesterday.

Cecily E. Collier-Montgomery, director of the office, recommended in a 17-page report that the employees still working for the District government be terminated, suspended, reprimanded or reassigned.

"The mayor must bear full responsibility for the failure of District government employees to conform the performance of their responsibilities or duties to the legal requirements of law," Collier-Montgomery wrote. "As the chief executive of the District government, it was incumbent upon the mayor to guarantee compliance with the appropriate procedures."

Williams could not be reached for comment. His spokesman, Tony Bullock, said: "The mayor has already accepted full responsibility for that matter. He has taken responsibility, and he has implemented procedures that will prevent any kind of recurrence. The fundraising activities were not political events, plain and simple. They were efforts to raise money for legitimate private-public partnership initiatives."

Bullock said he did not know whether supervisors of the employees would take any personnel action.

"We obviously want to review the individual findings and conclusions of the report, which we have not had an opportunity to do," Bullock said. "The findings of the OCF are consistent with the findings of the [inspector general] and the U.S. attorney."

Those named in the report include current employees Elizabeth Berke-Valencia, Cloria Ann Canty, Alfonza Fitzgerald, Gregory McCarthy, Lisa Marie Morgan and Hyong Yi, and former employees Marie Drissel, Mark A. Jones, Sandy McCall, Abdusalam Omer and Thomas Tucker.

The report by the Office of Campaign Finance followed a finding released three weeks ago by the U.S. attorney's office that the mayor and his top aides committed no criminal wrongdoing when they used nonprofit corporations to solicit $ 1.5 million from city contractors and other businesses, then used the money for political and civic activities hosted by the mayor's office.

D.C. Inspector General Charles C. Maddox, who conducted a year-long investigation, had asked the U.S. attorney's office and the Campaign Finance Office to review his 514-page report to see whether the mayor or his top aides had broken any laws by conducting financial transactions with city businesses.

Collier-Montgomery, who began her investigation six months ago, admonished Williams for failing to provide public accounting and disclosure of the funds solicited by his top aides to pay for nine government and political events.

"For the most part, the mayor asserted he relied upon his subordinates to execute their responsibilities in accordance with the requirement of law," Collier-Montgomery wrote. "This reliance was misplaced."

But she also noted that Williams has implemented new procedures to govern the solicitation and acceptance of money for civic activities on behalf of the District government.

She said that the mayor's office has conducted numerous ethics seminars and workshops for his aides, with guidance from the office of corporation counsel, the federal office of special counsel and the Campaign Finance Office.

When the inspector general released his report in March, Maddox said it did not appear that Williams had personally committed any crime and that the fundraising effort was not "a campaign of institutional corruption" to enrich the mayor or his top aides.

The largest fundraising effort involved the mayor's office establishing the nonprofit Millennium Washington-Capital Bicentennial to help pay for a citywide celebration to welcome the new century.

The outcome of yesterday's report was similar to one released in November after the Campaign Finance Office investigated the activities of Mark A. Jones, the mayor's former deputy chief of staff for external affairs.

At the time, the Campaign Finance Office said Jones had violated the District's personnel rules when he raised nearly $ 90,000 to pay for government and political activities. Jones used two nonprofit groups affiliated with the mayor's office to solicit the contributions. The report found that government staff and resources had been used and that the solicitations had occurred during working hours.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company