The Washington Post

Kenyan McDuffie dismisses employee over debit-card misuse

Kenyan McDuffie, a former federal prosecutor, replaced disgraced legislator Harry Thomas Jr. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie dismissed an aide Thursday after he spent $225 from the legislator’s constituent service fund on personal expenses.

McDuffie (D-Ward 5) said in a Thursday interview and in a Friday news release that the issue was discovered during a “routine, internal review” of the account, which is funded by private donations and is intended to pay for various citizen needs.

McDuffie did not identify the employee, but Tim Clark, who had served as a community affairs coordinator in McDuffie’s office, acknowledged his firing Friday and took responsibility for misusing a debit card linked to the constituent service account.

“It was stupid; it was a mistake,” Clark said. “If I was a council member, I wouldn’t tolerate it either. It looks bad.”

Clark said he used the debit card on two occasions earlier this month to pay bar tabs. The first time was inadvertent; the second time, he said, “was a bad decision for me to have made.”

Before the matter was discovered in the review, Clark said, he sent a text message to the fund’s treasurer to report the transactions and offered to write a personal check to cover the illicit expenditures. But Clark said he understood he couldn’t keep his job.

“He did what he had to do,” he said of McDuffie, a former federal prosecutor who holds the seat vacated by Harry Thomas Jr., who is now in federal prison for stealing city funds. “He practices what he preaches. I didn’t live up to the standard he expects from employees in his office.”

Clark said he also planned to resign from his Ward 5 advisory neighborhood commission seat, which he has held since 2010.

McDuffie said he has asked the Office of Campaign Finance, which regulates constituent service funds, to review the matter. “It’s my hope OCF can figure out the extent of all this and do a swift investigation,” he said.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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