D.C. Mayor Fenty ruled immune to campaign worker's suit

By Keith L. Alexander
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A D.C. Superior Court magistrate judge on Tuesday dismissed a small-claims lawsuit against Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, ruling that Fenty's public office protected him from the former campaign worker's complaint.

Clinton LeSueur sued Fenty for $5,000 that he said Fenty (D) promised him for helping Muriel Bowser (D) win what had been Fenty's D.C. Council seat in Ward 4. Bowser was the mayor's handpicked successor in the 2007 election.

At a hearing Tuesday, Judge Michael J. McCarthy did not rule on the merits of LeSueur's claim. Rather, in dismissing the case, he cited a District law that provides immunity for elected officials.

The law protects officeholders from being targeted by personal lawsuits. The idea behind the law was to give elected officials the freedom to make political decisions without fear of lawsuits.

McCarthy said that even if Fenty (D) had made the deal with LeSueur, it had to have been made after Fenty was elected mayor, and therefore LeSueur had no recourse in court.

Fenty's attorney, Bruce Klores, also argued that there was no proof that Fenty had made such an agreement. Further, Klores said, LeSueur sued the wrong party because he was working for the Bowser campaign at the time. Bowser's campaign has paid LeSueur $20,000 for his five-month position.

LeSueur said Fenty promised him the additional payment as a bonus if Bowser (D) was elected.

After the hearing, LeSueur, who represented himself, said he planned to have the decision reviewed by the court's associate judge panel.

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