Mayor Marion Barry's wife, Effi said yesterday that she was ordered by her employer, Pacific Consultants, to write a letter to The Washington Post saying that she did not earn $60,000 a year, as her husband had told a reporter last year.
She said her actual salary as assistant vice president for marketing for the firm is $28,800 a year.
Mrs. Barry said Pacific President Otho Green told her to write the letter because the firm, which receives federal contracts through the Small Business Administration, has received inquiries from the agency as to why an employee would reportedly have such a high salary.
The original report of the $60,000 salary was based on an interview with Mayor and Mrs. Barry in July. They were sitting across the table from one another at a garden party in Anacostia when a reporter, noting that Barry earned $60,000 as mayor, asked what Mrs. Barry made.
"She makes the same," the mayor said.
'Sixty thousand dollars?" the reporter asked.
"She makes the same," he repeated. Mrs. Barry said nothing.
The mayor said through a spokeswoman yesterday that he had never made such a statement. Barry did not move to correct the statement, attributed to him, because, "He hadn't said anything about it in the first place and he didn't want to get into it," press secretary Florence Tate said. p
Two copies of the short letter were received at The Post, one Thursday and another on Friday. Mrs. Barry said in both instances, her signature was signed by secretaries, with her permission. She said a copy of the letter was sent out by accident.
The letter read:
"It has recently been brought to my attention that in two recent articles you incorrectly reported my annual salary from the firm of Pacific Consultants as $60,000. These erroneous reports have greatly inconvenienced Pacific Consultants."
"Although I feel my salary is a personal matter, in view of the inconvenience to Pacific, please note for your records that it is significantly less than $60,000."
The $60,000 figure was first published in August, and repeated in December. Mrs. Barry said she did not complain because she felt her salary was her personal business. "I don't know how many times it was in the paper. I don't know because I don't read the paper (all the time)," she said.
An SBA official in Boston said that Pacific has had 40 to 50 contracts with the government since 1977, worth from $3 million to $5 million. Many have come through a special program that sets aside certain contracts for minority firms.
An annual review of the contracts is being conducted, the official said. But that review is not what the agency considers an investigation, SBA officials said.