Loose Lips

Gray Orders “Top Down” Review of All Political Hires

Mayor Vince Gray's office announced late Wednesday evening that each of his administration's political hires, known as excepted service employees, will undergo a "more stringent personnel review and background check."

The move comes after a series of stories on individual political hires who have questionable, and sometimes criminal, backgrounds. The most recent story was just published by LL this afternoon, detailing how the Gray administration's pick for the chief of staff position at the Department of Health Care Finance appears to have used physical force on his ex-wife.

“While a vetting process was implemented, it is clear that the approach was not thorough enough to address all relevant issues and questions for Excepted Service appointments,” Gray said in a statement released at 9:06 p.m. “Moving forward, I want to make sure that we check and double-check all current and future Excepted Service appointees by also engaging our own Metropolitan Police Department.”

Added Gray: "While it is hoped that candidates for jobs such as these would voluntarily reveal significant aspects of their history that could influence the decision to hire them, clearly that has not always occurred."

Here's the full statement:

(Washington, DC) Today Mayor Gray ordered a more stringent personnel review and background check of all Excepted Service appointees in his administration. This action is the result of his concern that the vetting process currently in place is not sufficient to identify all of the challenges that may be experienced by potential hires.

“While a vetting process was implemented, it is clear that the approach was not thorough enough to address all relevant issues and questions for Excepted Service appointments,” said Mayor Gray. “Moving forward, I want to make sure that we check and double-check all current and future Excepted Service appointees by also engaging our own Metropolitan Police Department.”

Mayor Gray’s cabinet level hires were vetted through an extensive transition background check that included personal, civil and criminal background checks. The checks consisted of credit history, criminal offenses, driving and traffic records, bankruptcies, property ownership, liens and judgments. It also covered education, legal, and business affiliations. These checks were performed by an outside entity and paid for by private donations.

Gray acknowledged that in moving quickly to fill positions below the top level, there was not the same degree of rigor as utilized with the cabinet posts. In certain cases, assumptions were made that because an individual had worked in the previous administration, or was currently employed in the government, background checks had been performed.

The more extensive effort ordered by the Mayor will include current appointees in the Excepted Service as well as future candidates. “While it is hoped that candidates for jobs such as these would voluntarily reveal significant aspects of their history that could influence the decision to hire them, clearly that has not always occurred,” said Mayor Gray.

The Mayor’s action is unprecedented. He will direct the Metropolitan Police Department to conduct criminal background checks consistent with prevailing law enforcement norms on each of the Mayor’s Excepted Service appointees.

  • Shakingmyhead

    All I do is watch the mess unfold. Bloomberg aspirations require the same money. If we don't compromise ourselves we can maybe be better leaders versus paying back folks who got us elected. Also we can be better stewards of the money that isn't ours versus trying to see how I can get mine and hook my folks up. Wake up DC!

  • http://citypaper Tony

    Vincent Gray will self destruct.

  • Richard notRich

    What a bunch of amateurs all around. and it is too late to turn back now. For Mayor Gray's part, if he had dismissed a couple of the re-runs who cant get enough "love" from the Wilson Building, he could have recovered & been taken seriously. Chairman of the dashboard Kwame Brown couldn't even wait a month to act like he knew what he was doing. My money was on him getting caught on a shakedown, and all he did was get caught with his hands on the steering wheel. Boo-Hoo-Hoo Graham got caught crying about GAGA, wah wah wah. Wells issues a report that states what we already knew - DUH. No wonder Cap Hill doesn't take us seriously. Nice politicians but bafoons all around.

  • Hypocrite Much?

    This is ALL Lorraine Green's MESS and Mayor Gray has walked around like he has blinders on when it applied to this woman. One would wonder what relationship they "really" have.

    Even President Obama "fired" the White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers after the fiasco of the State Dinner. So I ask you, what exactly does this Lorraine Green person have over or on Mayor Gray that he takes her advice in hiring so explicitely?

    I mean, just look at all of these National Forum for Black Public Administrators cronies that she has stacked our government with..let's examine the list, Judy Banks-HR, Gerri-Mason Hall-Chief of Staff to the Mayor, Linda Wharton-Boyd-Communications Director for the Mayor, Rochelle Webb-DOES Director, and yes, even Lorraine Green herself received an appointment to the very Board (Gray picks pal Lorraine Green to be on convention center board) where one of her friends is employed as the HR Director.

    And then, to solidify the depth of the cronyism they ensure employment for ALL of their children, as if they are the best qualified candidates. I don't know about anyone else, but I had to work very hard and continue to do so to EARN my place in this world and yes, even this work world. Then, for Mayor Gray to act as if no other District resident has children who are qualified and need employment is insulting and disgraceful.

    There has been no true vetting of these positions because more dirt would be unearthed about the Lobbyist deals that were sparked by these strategic placements. Further examination of these children's records will be very telling as well. You will find that the education is merky at best and false at worst. You will also find that the jobs that they have dishonestly put on their resume's all have the same references, someone in the NFBPA to verify their employment.

    This borders on some Illuminati syndicate secret society B.S.

    Good Luck DC, you got it wrong again, you just re-elected Sharon Pratt Kelly and her shoulder pad brigade of dragons with dresses.

  • Grace Jones

    Who does background checks on MPD personnel? Will they do a background check on Cherita Whiting to see if she lied on her application applying for the $65,000. yearly salary at Parks & Rec.?

  • DC Guy

    I supported Vince Gray because the City couldn't afford another 4 years of the financial mess created and continued by the Fenty administration.

    This, however, is not what I was expecting.

  • LOL

    I think that the background checks are the only thing that he can do to stop the bleeding now. But, background checks aren't the whole enchilada. We have to see what happens when they are complete and there is action to be taken. That will be the real test of Mayor Gray.

  • Rake

    This administration is an imploding joke. It would be funny if the city wasn't moving backwards every day. So much for "the best and the brightest, and the the most qualified"...

    @Hypocrite much, this sums it all up: "Good Luck DC, you got it wrong again, you just re-elected Sharon Pratt Kelly and her shoulder pad brigade of dragons with dresses"

    I mean, it's not like Vince failed in his only other executive post right? What?

    ONE CITY, with background checks - wait, more stringent background checks, checked and double-checked, for all.

  • http://citypaper Tony

    Vincent Gray is the brother of the most despicable human in the washington area. That person is pimping the poor taxpayers out of millions yearly. Kent ASSHOLE Amos is his name.

  • http://www.amamimus.com/solutions.html AMamiMus Business Services

    Grace Jones...I see that Cherita Whiting is moving up in the world. It was just 4 years ago that she reigned over one of the Ward 4 ANCs. So, she has a PAID position with the DC government now? I bet she emphasized her voluntary work on the Gray campaign to demonstrate her fitness for the DPR gig.

    What do you think?

  • SSDD

    All this goes on DURING a hiring freeze. Current workers have had no cost of living increase for 4 years, they have a step increase freeze, they got furloughed for the remaining holidays in FY11, have had their benefits cut (now pay more for health insurance) and cannot fill critical positions because of the budget crisis--but while ALL this is going on Gray has hired more than 200 cronies. I wouldn't complain about pitching in extra and tightening the financial belt (hey, it's a serious economic nightmare out there!) but only if I knew that it was a level playing field. Instead we have unqualified excepted service employees fogging a mirror and collecting their $100k, we got elected members of government with car leases that cost more than my rent and we continue to get nothing but lip service and more inquiries and investigations- wonder what those will cost! It's all so disheartening. If they don't think this affects everyone working here, from the top down, they are total idiots. Their work force feels cheated and lied to and their constituents feel duped. Good luck recovering from that.

  • DT

    Everyone deserves a second chance. How can talented people move past their mistakes when they are forced by an intrusive/sensationalistic press and a timid administration to be excluded out of the chance to serve the people for which they work so hard for?

    This is not right.

  • SEis4ME

    Wait, so Gray takes the unprecedented step of working w/MPD to perform background checks and the criticism is that he is doing it or that he (like his predecessors) didn't do it before now?

    Gray, face it dude, the microscope is up your ass and the citypaper will be relentless in their "fact finding missions" operating under the guise of honest reporting.

  • 4Ward4

    This is not about a one-time error. It's a pattern of errors in judgment by Mr. Karim.

    Just look at the court case -- a footnote says, "The judge acknowledged that he was 'losing patience' with the husband, and he frequently and severely rebuked the husband ... Although the judge's language and tone were at times arguably less polite than they might have been, his exasperation with the lack of preparation for trial by the husband, a lawyer, was understandable."

    I mean, c'mon.

  • Really?

    It's a step in the right direction and at least there was an acknowlegment thru firing of those found to have issues.

    Now if we were under the former administration all of ya'll would have gotten the middle finger and a look like "what you going to do boo".

  • Bored with this

    You all are funny!!! This man has been in office all of TWO complete months and has answered more FOIA request in that short time than Fenty did during his ENTIRE FOUR YEARS and all you can do is complain. The previous poster was right when they said Gray has a microscope up his behind.

    You are questioning EVERY one of Gray appointments in a way that you never did with the Fenty-ites all under the guise of reporting news. You are beginning to look like the boy who cried wolf.

    Yes Kwame was stupid for DEMANDING those cars and should have to return the cost of purchasing, not just the cost of "using one for a week". If there is no way to MAKE that happen, guess what? We can't make him do it. Still, WHAT does his demand have to do with Gray? Other than the fact that he kept a Fenty Director in the same job to try to appease disgruntled Fenty supporters, GRAY did not direct DPW to order those vehicles for Kwame in the months before Gray took office. Get real.

    And yes Fenty used his smart car to show up on camera in it but still had his Nav and Town car. So he had THREE cars being used for his transportation needs instead of one. How much was the lease for those THREE cars for the last 4 years and why didn't anyone care enough about it to ask, write an article or demand an investigation then? Was it because you "liked" that person?, or was it "responsible journalism"?

    Even so, I expect the cost for this administration to be less and to have an open and transparent administration, just like he campaigned on. I would also like to see a comparison of cost, polital appointees, how much each agency is spending THEN AND NOW to find out if we really are spending less. Not the witch hunt that you are doing now.

    You show that humdreds of leases have been entered into by DC Govt over the past 5 years and none of you are staking out Frntys home asking him about his decisions but you want to hang the person who inherited the leases (minus two) for the "best practices" of the previous administration.

    Looks to me like one of Grays mistakes may have been allowing ANY of Fenty's appointments to keep their job.... But once again, he is the one who is trying to build "one city" and have everyone work together.... Mean while, all of you are chasing him with the butcher knife in on hand and the rope in the other.

    Give it at least a minute! Damn! The way your going about it is making you look so petty.

  • Rake

    Gotta love a 100 paragraph rant, rife with misspellings, baseless costs comparisons / projectiosn, with the kicker being that those who seek to question the administration are somehow "petty".

    "Bored", judging from the Administration's reaction to the numerous stories over the past few weeks - seems like they now realize that they are having a major PR problem and are battling to correct it (not to mention actual problems governing, as seen via the 911 furlough issue). When you run on Character.Integrity.Leadership - and start by doing none of those things better than your predecessor, something's gotta give. Nice to see that Vince, et al. have a base of one citidiots willing to give him a pass for almost anything, though.

  • Rake

    oh yeah, and my bad on misspelling projections after calling someone else out. Lol'z.

  • Drez

    The leases may have been executed by DPW prior to Gray's inauguration, but I'll bet $2000/month they were executed after the primary election. And Howland is still director.
    Saying they were executed before Gray took office is making a distinction without a difference, and the continual efforts to blame everything on Fenty is weak.

  • SEis4ME

    Drez, other than your usual defense of all things Fenty and bashing all things Gray, I'm not sure anyone understands the point of your post.

    You believe that the leases "may" have been executed by DPW prior to Gray's inauguration in January of this year. But you bet money that they were executed last summer when the primary was held?

    I'm sorry but who was mayor last summer?

  • John Roberts

    Hey Bored with this, what kind of appointment did you get hooked up with?

  • Bored with this

    He also ran on transparency but no cudos for letting you all know what's going on. He also said he would bring back the weekly press Conf to allow for Q & A time as a way to "keep him honest" but no cudos for that. Every wrong that he has been made aware of he is attempting to correct in a timely fashion instead of giving you the middle finger a's his predecessor did but nope! Not good enough. It was fine with us 5 months ago but today, off with his head. It all just seem a little too petty a little too early, and then to go so far a's to mention a misspelled word (while misspelling a word on a blog shows just how petty). By the way John, I haven't received a job, contract or perk and am not looking for one from the Gray administration. I am however looking for someone who, if something just doesn't make sense, I can reach and they will actually think about it or correct it if necessary instead of ignoring me. I pay more than enough taxes along with private school and college tuition in this city and I feel it is the least that I deserve.

  • Drez

    Read it again.
    Sound it out syllable by syllable if you need to.

  • Drez

    My point is that Gray had effective control of many parts of DC Gov after the primary. Government business, including these leases (there are emails) were executed by directors that depended on the incoming mayor for their reappointment.
    Inauguration date isn't what's important. Primary date is.
    Get it?

  • noodlez

    @Drez-"My point is that Gray had effective control of many parts of DC Gov after the primary."



  • drez

    You don't think Gray (and Kwame, for that matter) had control of Howland before his inauguration? Really? Why, then, do you think Howland was permitted to stay on and, how then, do you think Navigate actually happened?
    Puh-lease. IMO the funny part is that only Kwame's emails to Howland were released to the press.

  • noodlez


  • drez

    The emails between Brown and Lew and Howland are in the public domain. When this happened, Gray's transition team was in control of these lease contracts. It's not my opinion. It's a fact.

  • http://candidatecheck.com/ J. David

    According to the Justice Department, 30% of American adults have some kind of criminal record. How can we not make background check a mandatory part of public hires?