Scrutiny of D.C. elected officials

The mayor and several members of the council face or have faced legal or ethical questions related to their conduct in office. Some of the more notable are described here:

Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D)

Former chairman of the D.C. Council and former Ward 7 council member

Controversies: Hiring more senior staff at higher salaries than predecessor Mayor Adrian M. Fenty; employing children of campaign and administration staff; poor vetting of some hires.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI and House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform are investigating allegations by fired city employee and former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown that he was promised a job and paid to disparage Fenty on the campaign trail last year. Gray has denied the allegations.

Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D)

Former at-large council member for eight years

Controversies: “Fully loaded,” the term used for the Lincoln Navigator he requested after winning election in November. Newly released e-mails show employees in the Department of Public Works were concerned about “the waste and abuse” of taxpayers’ money.

A now-defunct political consulting firm passed $239,000 to a firm headed by his brother, and his 2008 reelection campaign did not account for more than $250,000 in expenses and donations, according to an audit by the Office of Campaign Finance, which filed a complaint to the Board of Elections and Ethics on Friday. Brown has denied that money is missing and has described the findings as “administrative errors.”

Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8)

Four-time mayor; has represented Ward 8 since 2005

Controversies: Several run-ins with law enforcement, including a 2009 arrest on a stalking charge that was quickly dropped. But the arrest drew attention to his relationship with an on-again-off-again girlfriend to whom he’d given a personal contract through his council office. Independent counsel investigation led to his censure and removal as chairman of the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5)

Twice elected council member; son of late Harry Thomas Sr.

Controversies: Sued by the city for the repayment of more than $300,000 in city funds diverted to his own nonprofit and company. Lawsuit is seeking nearly $1 million, including damages. Stepped down as chairman of the Committee on Economic Development.

He said that he will be "vindicated."

Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1)

First elected in 1998; Committee on Human Services chairman.

Controversies: “Cash Cab,” nickname of FBI investigation into the taxicab industry that led to corruption charges for Ted Loza, Graham’s former longtime chief of staff. Graham formerly oversaw transportation and voluntarily gave up oversight of taxicab industry after Loza was arrested. New details emerged at Loza’s sentencing that Loza tried to pass $2,600 in cash in an envelope to Graham. The council member told Loza to return it but did not report the incident to authorities. Says he did not know there was anything illegal going on with Loza and the cab industry.


SOURCE: Staff reports. GRAPHIC: The Washington Post. Published June 12, 2011.