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City Repaid for Bill for Fenty's Fraternity's Bash

By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 5, 2009; B08

The District has been reimbursed for $37,000 in taxpayer money used to throw a posh welcome reception Monday night for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's fraternity, after the attorney general determined that it was "not a proper use of government funds."

Fenty (D) and the D.C. Council wrestled last week with closing a potential $666 million budget shortfall over the next three years. But the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development provided a $37,000 grant to the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., for Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity's open-bar affair. The fraternity is in town this week for a conference.

The event was held at the Historical Society's building near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Guests munched on corn fritters, crab cakes, chocolate-covered cheesecake and mini red velvet cupcakes as jazz bands played on two floors.

Attorney General Peter J. Nickles said he looked into the matter Tuesday morning at the request of the mayor. "I concluded immediately that this was not proper," said Nickles, who said the society reimbursed the money that morning.

Although the mayor attended the affair and was on stage as fraternity members thanked him for paying for the event, "he didn't put two and two together that this was money that had come from the city," Nickles said.

Mafara Hobson, Fenty's spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that "the employees who knew about or authorized this action have been formally advised and reminded that this is not a proper use of government funds."

Nickles would not reveal the identities of the employees, citing personnel issues.

The fraternity is holding its 79th Grand Chapter meeting in the District this week. Fenty told the crowd Monday that 5,000 fraternity members were expected to attend the conference.

On Monday night, international fraternity leaders acknowledged the mayor and Sinclair Skinner, the mayor's friend and a fraternity member, for making the event happen. Skinner, who is currently under scrutiny for his role in donating a used firetruck and ambulance to a town in the Dominican Republic, was inaccurately identified at the bash by the fraternity brothers as working in the "mayor's office."

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