Marion Barry ally at nonprofit resigns after misconduct alleged
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The Rev. Anthony J. Motley, a confidant of council member Marion Barry, stepped down Wednesday as head of a nonprofit group in the wake of an investigation that concluded Motley mishandled funds and "manufactured" documents in response to a subpoena, among other allegations.
Motley's resignation as president and executive director of the JOBS Coalition, which he also co-founded, is the latest fallout from Barry's contract controversy.
Last week, attorney Robert S. Bennett, retained last year by the D.C. Council to investigate its contracts and earmark grants, delivered a report alleging that Barry (D-Ward 8) misused city funds and received a cut of a $15,000 contract he awarded to on-again, off-again girlfriend Donna Watts-Brighthaupt. Barry, who apologized Tuesday for his poor judgment on the matter, faces possible censure and a referral of the case to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Motley, who is running for an at-large council seat, dismissed the investigation for not understanding how nonprofits operate and for what he called its "prosecutorial tone."
"First, they have attempted to characterize most of what they have reported in sensational tones and references like 'steering,' 'political supporters,' 'friends' and 'manufacturing,' " Motley said at a news conference. "These terms lend themselves to imply that from the beginning there is something wrong with the process, relationship or situation they are investigating." He suggested that it's common for council members to know people who receive earmarks. The JOBS Coalition received one from Barry.
The JOBS Coalition's board accepted Motley's resignation and is seeking outside counsel to help with a probe of the matter, said Carol Randolph, a board member and communications adviser.
The board was not aware of the earmark from Barry until after the grant arrived and raised concerns last year, Randolph said. "We are doing our own internal investigation," she said.
Motley acknowledged at the news conference that he did not inform the board, adding that it meets quarterly and that he waited until everyone was in attendance to tell them about the award.
Bennett found that Motley personally received about $54,000 from the earmarks in various positions: executive director and project director of the JOBS Coalition; executive director and project director of another nonprofit group, Inner Thoughts; and fiscal agent for other nonprofits through Inner Thoughts.
But the money received by all the organizations was often commingled as if it were one pool of money, and Motley, as the fiscal agent, at one point paid himself $14,550 in fees, according to the report.
Motley said that he had loaned Inner Thoughts some money and that "the fiscal agent" repaid him. When asked to clarify whether he was the fiscal agent and whether he wrote the check, he said, "I wrote the check."
He also said Bennett had "mischaracterized" his production of documents, saying that some, including a timesheet and a contract, could not be found, so they were reproduced.
Motley responded to Bennett's findings at a news conference at the Bellevue Homeownership Resource Center, an office in a strip mall on South Capitol Street SW. Both Inner Thoughts and the JOBS Coalition operate in the building and offer free space to several upstarts, he said.
He often spoke in the third person, referring to "Motley," "the fiscal agent" or "the president/CEO." "That's me," he said at one point.
Motley said Bennett does not understand how nonprofits work. "There were some dualities here," he said, describing how organizations, particularly Inner Thoughts and the JOBS Coalition, pool their resources.
In a small conference room, Motley stood at a lectern draped in a disposable blue plastic tablecloth. The walls were bare save for a 2010 calendar with the Obama family pictured and a large framed display of photographs of Motley helping the community. A plaque inside the frame read, "Hustling for Souls."