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Mayor Gray: No 'quid pro quo'

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 6, 2011

Former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown told The Washington Post that he struck a deal last summer with the campaign of Mayor Vincent C. Gray to continue his attacks on incumbent Adrian M. Fenty in exchange for a city job if Gray won.

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Brown, who was recently dismissed from his $110,000-a-year position with the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance, also alleges that two Gray campaign aides gave him a series of cash payments to help finance his campaign. The Post could not independently verify any payments.

In an interview Saturday, Gray adamantly denied Brown's allegations, saying the campaigns did not work in tandem. He said he agreed only to get a job interview for Brown, but not in return for attacks on Fenty.

"Was there a quid pro quo here? Did we ask him to do something on behalf of my candidacy, and did we give him something? The answer is unequivocally no," said Gray, who added that he was not aware of any payments to Brown by campaign aides. "I want to make sure there's no sunshine here. I didn't ask anybody to do it. I didn't tell anybody to do it. I didn't authorize anybody to do it."

A Post review of Brown's cellphone records between June and the Sept. 14 Democratic primary shows that he received 29 calls from numbers belonging to Gray, campaign chairman Lorraine Green, campaign consultant Howard Brooks and a Gray personal aide. Through January, 17 of Brown's incoming and outgoing calls with those numbers ranged from 5 minutes to 17 minutes, according to the records.

Also, text messages from Brown's cellphone in November and December underscore his frustration as he questioned whether the Gray campaign would keep what Brown said was a promise of a job. The response from Gray's cellphone assured Brown that no agreement had been "breached."

Brown said he received payments from Green and Brooks.

Green, who headed Gray's transition team, denied ever paying Brown and said she once talked to him about potentially working in the administration. "Really? I gave him cash payments? I don't even really know this man. This is ridiculous," she said. "Just as other people came to us during the campaign . . . he wanted to be considered for a job."

When asked in a second interview about the number of calls between the two of them, Green said she generally returns calls out of courtesy and answers her phone without knowing who is calling.

Brooks initially said he met Brown during town hall meetings and didn't remember calling him. Told about the phone records, Brooks said that he talked to several candidates during the election and that he reached out to Brown to compliment him on his performance during a debate. "He came off the stage, and I told him how clever it was," said Brooks, who declined to comment further without an attorney present.

On paid leave

Brown is currently on paid administrative leave until March 11, when he is to be terminated as a special assistant with the Department of Health Care Finance. Sources said administration officials became alarmed that a 2007 restraining order against Brown involved allegations of stalking a 13-year-old girl. Brown has denied knowledge of the stalking allegation.

Gray had defended Brown's hiring, which was first reported last month in a Post article about high salaries and political hires.

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