The Washington Post

Gray transition audit reveals payments to consultants at center of campaign controversies

More than a year after he was sworn  into office, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) has released a detailed accounting of who contributed to his transition and how he spent the money, including more than $100,000 in payments to two men at the center of some of the mayor’s campaign and hiring controversies.

Mayor Vincent Gray (Sarah L. Voisin/THE WASHINGTON POST)

The audit, conducted at Gray’s request by Benjamin Associates LLC, shows the DC One City Fund collected just under $1 million to pay for Gray’s inauguration and staff costs following the November 2010 general election.

The bulk of the money, about $714,000, was spent paying vendors who helped produce Gray’s inaugural ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention after he was sworn in on Jan. 1, 2011.

But the audit, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Post, reveals previously undisclosed payments to Gray consultant Howard Brooks and Reuben Charles, who chaired the One City Fund.

The One City Fund paid Charles’s Citadel Partners firm $70,000 for four months work between November through February, according to the audit. Charles was a Gray fundraiser during the campaign, when he was battered by a series of media reports about liens and judgments that have been filed against him in other states.

Gray’s transition also made eight separate payments totaling $34,500 to Brooks, who is at the center of the federal investigation into Gray’s 2010 campaign.

 Former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown alleges that Brooks paid him during that campaign to stay in the race and attack then-mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) on behalf of Gray. Brooks has denied he did anything illegal. Gray has stated he did not have a close relationship with Brooks and did not know about any payments.

 Brooks’s consulting fee from the transition is in addition to the $44,000 that he received from the Gray campaign following the mayor’s win in the September 2010 Democratic primary.

 The payments to Brooks from the transition account stopped after a $5,000 payment on March 2, 2010. On March 6, the Washington Post first reported on Brown’s allegations that he had received cash payments from Brooks.

Pedro Ribeiro, Gray’s communications director, said the release of the audit follows through on the mayor’s promise to be transparent.

 “The report is consistent with what the mayor had repeatedly said about his transition fund and also says he’s committed to transparency and openness about the  fund, including releasing the names of the donors,” Ribeiro said.

 Glenn Ivey, Brooks’s attorney, declined comment.

With inaugural and transition accounts currently not subject to District campaign finance law, the audit offers a window in the unregulated amounts of money that District leaders can accept for the funds.

 The largest contribution, $50,000, came from a company controlled by Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. Gray also received $25,000 from Franklin L. Haney, Jr., a developer who has pushed to build on city-owned land on the former D.C. General Hospital campus.

Two non-profit colleges also donated to Gray’s transition, according to the audit. The One City Fund received $25,000 from Howard University and $5,000 from Georgetown University.

 At  least one donation appears to from overseas. According to the audit, Gray accepted $10,000 from the Embassy of Qatar. At the time, a Qatari state investment fund was preparing to announce a $700 million investment in City Center DC project on the site of the former convention center.

 Gray also received from $1,500 from Ivanhoe Donaldson, the former deputy mayor in Marion Barry’s administration. Donaldson has generally kept a low profile since being released from prison in 1988 after serving four years for stealing $190,000 from the District government.

Staff writer Mike DeBonis also contributed to this report.

An earlier version of this story misspelled Franklin L. Haney Jr.’s name. It has been corrected.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.


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