This mayoral race has had a little bit of everything, but not — until Thursday — a Ronald Moten music video.
And let’s be honest: Whatever you think of the activist, promoter, organizer, former Republican candidate, erstwhile nonprofit chieftain, Muriel Bowser supporter and occasional defendant, this campaign season has been poorer for it. Puppets can only do so much.
So behold “Mood Swings,” Moten’s very-much-on-message diss of independent David A. Catania, set to the tune of IAMMAKONNEN’s “Tuesday” and performed with longtime collaborator Big Wax: “Vote Bowser this Tuesday / Catania got too many mood swings,” and so forth.
There’s a backstory here: Moten and Catania “used to be cool,” according to Moten — hence his relatively low profile on the campaign scene this general election season.
Then, on Oct. 21, the Catania campaign blasted an e-mail to supporters accusing the “D.C. political machine” of “launching a last-ditch, illegal effort to steal this election,” citing a Washington Post story on anti-Catania campaigning by an unregistered group. Among those involved, the e-mail said, was a person who “co-founded an organization found guilty of misusing city grant funding to purchase two high-end SUV’s.”
That description fits Moten, who co-founded the Peaceoholics, a group which found itself in just such a predicament this summer. Two problems, though: First, Moten wasn’t implicated in campaigning described in the Post story, and second, Moten is still fighting the Peaceoholics lawsuit; the judgment entered was against the now-defunct corporation and co-founder Jauhar Abraham, not Moten.
So now Moten is demanding satisfaction from Catania — not only in video form, but in lawsuit form, too. In a civil action filed in D.C. Superior Court Thursday, Moten accuses Catania and campaign officials of libeling him in the e-mail.
For more on the litigation, see Jeffrey Anderson’s thorough Washington City Paper report.
Moten says all Catania has to do is send an apology to the same list as the original e-mail, and he’ll drop the suit. Moten said he personally shared that message with Catania Thursday morning outside the Columbia Heights Metro station, but he said no apology was tendered.
“He told me that he didn’t use my name, so it was no big deal,” Moten said. “I said, ‘We friends, so why would you do that to me?’ He doesn’t understand the implications of what he sent out. That hurts me. He’s a millionaire. I’m broke; I can barely take of myself and my family. This is serious.”
Catania campaign manager Ben Young, who signed the e-mail that has so aggrieved Moten, confirmed there was an encounter at the Metro. He did not seem inclined to apologize.
“I just think that Muriel Bowser has a lot of interesting characters and interesting hangers-on who have a lot of at stake in this election,” he said, calling Moten “part of the machine and the cast of characters Muriel Bowser brings. If [voters] want that, they’ll get it with her.”
Moten said his offer to drop the lawsuit may not last past Election Day. After then, he said, “It’s not the same impact.”