APRIL 11, 2008
The Democratic mayor of the District of Columbia used taxpayer-funded advertisements to promote a family business which incidentally has donated thousands of dollars to his political campaign.
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, a former councilman whose mayoral campaign emphasized that government must serve the priorities of its people, took advantage of a multi million-dollar public advertising campaign to publicize his family’s business.
Designed to promote D.C. tourism, the nationally shown ads feature the athletic mayor jogging through Rock Creek Park, beside a well-known triathlete, wearing a shirt that sports the Fenty business name (Fleet Feet) in large black letters.
The store sells running gear and its logo will soon be plastered on numerous city-funded print and online ads as well as television commercials. The highly coveted free publicity, which runs through September, is courtesy of D.C. taxpayers who have funded the $2 million campaign.
Some local officials and business leaders have called for the mayor to immediately remove himself from all the ads after accusing him of using poor judgment, being unethical and possibly violating the District code. One area political watchdog said she can’t think of any elected official that has so blatantly promoted a private commercial venture by using their official position.
At least one local politician—best known for appearing in an FBI surveillance video smoking crack—is supporting Fenty’s ad scandal. D.C. councilman Marion Barry, the city’s disgraced former longtime mayor, assures that the successful Fleet Feet store doesn’t need Fenty’s help. Barry was a four-term D.C. mayor who got convicted on drug charges and served jail time. A few years ago he got busted for failing to pay his city and federal taxes. Fenty must be proud to have him on his side for this one.
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