FEBRUARY 17, 2010
In the latest of numerous legal problems for one of the nation’s most corrupt politicians, investigators have determined that the District of Columbia’s renowned crack head mayor—now a councilman—illegally steered a bogus $15,000 city contract to his girlfriend and took a cut for himself.
If only this didn’t involve Marion Barry, the District’s famously unscrupulous lawmaker, it would be a headline-grabbing story. Instead it’s just another notch on the veteran politician’s lengthy list of wrongdoing. Led by the attorney who defended Bill Clinton against Paula Jones’s sexual harassment lawsuit, a team of investigators hired by the D.C. City Council have accused Barry of public corruption for his latest shenanigans, which include earmarking hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups he controls.
Not only did he fraudulently give his girlfriend valuable taxpayer money, Barry, who is best known for appearing in an FBI surveillance video smoking crack as D.C. mayor, also "mounted a concerted effort" to interfere with the investigation by attempting to dissuade his gal pal from cooperating with her subpoena.
Perpetually in denial, Barry insists he did nothing wrong because the council has no written procedures forbidding members’ girlfriends from getting lucrative city contracts. Without written rules one “cannot be held accountable for violating something that did not exist in the first place,” Barry confidently proclaimed this week when confronted with the investigation’s findings.
Investigators point out however, that council members are bound by District law, which clearly states that “no public official shall use his or her official position or office to obtain financial gain for himself or herself or any member of his or her household." That also covers boyfriends and girlfriends. Additionally, Barry is also bound by federal law, which prohibits "bribery, gratuities and conflicts of interest."
These are all foreign concepts for Barry who last year directed about $8.5 million in District funds to dozens of his favorite groups, including at least six “nonprofits” founded by him. To qualify for the money, the organizations had to be legally registered nonprofit groups and some of the incorporation papers were actually forged, according to the recent investigation which took nearly a year.
This sort of thug-like behavior is nothing new for Barry, who has been elected to the D.C. Council four times since completing his prison sentence for the 1990 drug conviction. In the last few years Barry has been in legal trouble for failing to pay around half a million dollars in city and federal taxes, repeatedly violating the terms of his probation and stalking his ex-girlfriend.
Last summer United States Park Police arrested the 73-year-old councilman for stalking a 40-year-old woman who flagged an officer down in the District’s Anacostia Park area and pointed Barry out as the man bothering her. He was sitting in a nearby vehicle as the area filled for a 4th of July fireworks celebration at around 8:45 p.m. Of interesting note is that the disgruntled girlfriend is the same woman who got the city contract when she was evidently on better terms with Barry.
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