$10M is sought from D.C. by firm with ties to Gray campaign adviser

During the 2010 D.C. mayoral campaign, candidate Sulaimon Brown was a frequent and harsh critic of incumbent Adrian M. Fenty. He often urged voters to support Vincent C. Gray instead.
By Tim Craig, Mike DeBonis and Nikita Stewart
Tuesday, March 8, 2011; 9:28 PM

A now-defunct radiology firm with ties to Mayor Vincent C. Gray campaign consultant Howard L. Brooks is seeking $10 million from the city for services it claims to have provided to the taxpayer-supported United Medical Center.

Whether Brooks had a role in drafting the letter is unclear, but it seeks payments dating from more than three years ago. City and hospital officials said they have refused payment, saying that they believe Southeast Imaging PLLC had overcharged the facility.

Brooks allegedly made payments to mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown during last year's campaign, Brown claimed in a recent interview with The Washington Post. Brooks, who has denied making any payments, did not return messages seeking comment.

Brooks was paid $44,000 by the Gray campaign through last fall. He is a close associate of campaign chairwoman Lorraine A. Green. Brown alleges that she oversaw the payments and that the campaign promised him a city job in return for his attacks on then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty if Gray won.

Gray and Green have denied the allegations, and The Post has not been able to independently verify any payments.

The letter, sent to Gray on Feb. 23, was drafted by an attorney for Southeast Imaging and renewed efforts to collect money the company says it owed for services provided from 2005 to 2007.

"It has never been our client's desire to file a law suit against the District of Columbia," wrote attorney Jill L. Phillips, "however, they have been irreparably harmed and therefore now have no choice but to bring action against all parties involved if the matter is not resolved."

Phillips declined to comment on the letter, obtained by The Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

Gray learned of the letter Tuesday, a spokesman said. The mayor's general counsel, Brian K. Flowers, confirmed receipt of the letter but said it was referred to the hospital. "We take the position that we are not liable for debts incurred before the foreclosure," Flowers said.

According to a report filed in 2005 with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Brooks is a member or manager of Southeast Imaging. A 2007 report, the last one filed by the corporation, did not list Brooks as a member but listed Charles E. Hunter as a principal in the company. Hunter, a licensed radiologist, said he and Brooks were business partners.

Hunter, however, said he had no knowledge of the letter and doesn't "know anything about $10 million."

"I did talk to Jill Phillips prior to the first of the year, and I know they were waiting for the new mayor to be inaugurated so that they could submit something to him," Hunter said. "But I was not aware of the dates or the amount or anything like that."

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