Gray acknowledges 'missteps,' calls for investigation

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Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, March 7, 2011

District Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Sunday acknowledged "missteps" and said he wants the city attorney general and the D.C. Council to investigate allegations that aides to his campaign paid mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown last summer to continue his attacks on then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in exchange for a city job.

Gray (D) also accepted the resignation of Talib Karim, chief of staff in the Department of Health Care Finance, where Brown was a $110,000-a-year special assistant until he was dismissed.

"I acknowledge we have made missteps," the mayor said, referring to the vetting process for administration jobs. "We have taken steps to address those missteps."

Gray said he is skeptical of Brown's assertion that he was paid by Lorraine Green, who was the mayor's campaign chairwoman and is one of his closest friends and advisers, and campaign consultant Howard Brooks. Green and Brooks have denied the allegations, and The Washington Post could not independently verify any payments.

"If somebody did that, then they ought to be subject to whatever justice is required," Gray said of the allegations. "I would never condone anything like that, period, point blank."

The mayor's mea culpa came on the day The Post published an article about Brown's allegations. Brown provided cellphone records that indicated dozens of calls between Brown and Gray and the two campaign staffers dating to late June and text messages in which Brown discusses promises he felt were made about a job.

Brown is standing his ground. He said in an interview Sunday that he was paid by Green and Brooks and had been promised a position with the Gray administration for his efforts against Fenty. Brown said he received money between June 24 and the Sept. 14 Democratic primary and used it to pay personal expenses and help fund his campaign.

"I'm willing to take the heat for what I did wrong," Brown said.

Several D.C. Council members welcomed Gray's call for an investigation, but some said they preferred that the D.C. inspector general or an outside investigator look into the allegations rather than the city's attorney general, Irvin B. Nathan, who was appointed by Gray and is awaiting council confirmation.

"I commend the mayor for wanting it investigated, but I also want the independence so we get that quality," said council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1). "We have to get to the bottom of this, obviously."

In a statement issued Sunday night, council Chairman Kwame R. Brown said he planned to refer the matter to the inspector general for an "independent review."

Gray advisers dubious

Several top advisers to the Gray campaign said Sunday that they doubt Sulaimon Brown's allegations are true.

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