NOVEMBER 19, 2009
In the latest scandal to rock a perpetually corrupt local government, the District of Columbia’s council chairman illegally used official stationery to solicit donations for the Democratic Party and secretly had a politically connected city contractor renovate his house.
The double whammy was exposed this week by two separate Washington D.C. newspapers hot on the prominent lawmaker’s tracks. At the very least they constitute serious ethics violations by D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, a popular politician with a decades-long career in social services. Gray once headed the District’s Department of Human Services as well as a notable organization dedicated to serving homeless and at-risk youth.
Now, like several of his colleagues in D.C. government, he faces public scrutiny and possibly legal consequences for his unscrupulous actions. Gray used official council stationary to solicit a $20,000 contribution from a cable company to help pay for Democratic Party activities at last year’s national convention. Like most government’s, D.C. forbids taxpayer resources to be used for political reasons or to raise cash for a particular party.
Additionally, the cable company ended up giving $10,000 even though D.C. law has a $5,000 limit on contributions by a single donor to a political committee during an election cycle. Gray actually got busted as part of a larger investigation into how the party committee raised and spent cash for convention activities.
The council chair is also in hot water for having a mega developer that does strictly large commercial projects renovate his house. The company has a $300 million real estate contract in an area that Gray represents and initially the council chair denied any work had been done on his 2,800-square-foot home last summer. He only came clean after a reporter dug around and gathered evidence of the shady arrangement.
Gray joins several D.C. government colleagues who have been exposed for fraud or wrongdoing recently. Among them is Mayor Adrian Fenty who used taxpayer-funded advertisements to promote a family business that donated generously to his campaign and took controversial overseas trips paid for by international governments. Judicial Watch has obtained the documents, through public records requests, detailing the highly questionable jaunts.
None of this seems to compare to the D.C. Council’s most famous member, a renowned crack head who has been elected four times after prison. Since getting captured on FBI surveillance video smoking crack as D.C. mayor in 1990, Marion Barry has been in trouble for evading taxes, violating the terms of his probation and, just a few months ago, for stalking his former girlfriend. Yet he’s a fixture in D.C. government where he currently represents Ward 8.
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