Loose Lips

You’re Hired!

Another week, another campaign supporter of Mayor Vince Gray’s who landed a cushy job with the District’s Medicaid agency and turns out to have legal problems.

Talib Karim, a Gray backer who recently began a $133,000-a-year job as chief of staff in the Department of Health Care Finance, appears to have used physical force on his ex-wife, according to D.C. Court of Appeals rulings that upheld a protective order against him issued by a Superior Court judge.

Just last week, another Gray supporter, Sulaimon Brown, was fired from his newly landed job as a special assistant for the very same department after concerns arose about his past legal trouble, including a protective order issued against him. Karim’s hiring raises even more uncomfortable questions about the Gray administration’s vetting and hiring process, and about Gray’s judgment in placing supporters in upper-level positions in a department that handles close to a quarter of the District’s overall budget. (The department deals with Medicaid and administers other public health insurance programs, serving approximately a third of the District’s residents.)

Karim’s most notable legal problems began in January 2008, when his wife called the police to report a domestic disturbance, according to a Court of Appeals ruling issued July 1, 2010. His wife, Delicia Gunn, filed a petition to get a protective order against Karim. In the petition, Gunn says she and Karim had a heated argument on Jan. 5, 2008, and she called the police twice. When she went to court to get a judge to approve the protective order, Gunn said Karim had on various occasions “pushed me while I’m holding [the couple’s five-month-old] baby,” and had “grabbed my arm and tried to force me from not leaving my house” and “would pin me down and not let me move and I would constantly tell him to let go of me, to get off of me, but he just wouldn’t.”

Gunn told Judge Lee Satterfield, who is now the chief judge of D.C. Superior Court, that Karim hadn’t struck her, but “could see it in his eyes that it was a matter of time.” Gunn also told the court that police had removed a rifle from their home; Karim said the rifle was his father’s firearm from the Korean War.

In court, Karim denied any physical abuse and said his wife had been the one doing the hitting. “Despite that, I never returned any type of strike or blow to her when she struck me,” Karim said, according to court records. Karim also maintained that his wife had filed a protective order against him in order to gain leverage in a custody battle over their child.

The hearing did not go well for Karim, who is an attorney and represented himself. Satterfield became exasperated and lost patience with Karim’s lack of preparation for the hearing, according to appeals court records. Karim “recognized that he was doing a poor job in representing himself,” and asked the judge to reschedule the case, the court of appeals wrote. Satterfield said no, “finding it hard to believe that a member of the bar could have been so ill-informed, and made so little inquiry, about the nature of the proceedings.”

After the hearing, Satterfield granted Gunn a protective order, basing his decision “on his assessment of the credibility and demeanor” of both her and Karim. The judge found that “since the [couple’s] child was born, and during the course of the marriage...[Karim] has pushed [Gunn], has aggressively held her down and grabbed her against her will.” Karim appealed. And in affirming Satterfield’s ruling, the court of appeals said evidence suggested that Gunn’s prime concern for filing the protective order “may not have been primarily related to domestic violence,” but there was “adequate if not overwhelming” evidence that the judge made the right decision in regard to “intrafamily offenses,” while noting that “the level of any violence was not at all extreme.”

The court of appeals also ruled that Satterfield correctly rejected Karim’s request to reschedule the hearing “solely because the husband belatedly regretted his improvident decision to represent himself.” (Which LL believes is the legalistic way to phrase the old saw about a lawyer who represents himself having a fool for a client.)

In an interview, Karim tells LL his wife had prevailed in her “allegations” because she’d been represented by a lawyer, which he says he couldn’t afford at the time of the hearing. He says a “subtle” reading of the appeal court’s decision shows that his lack of an attorney was the real reason why he lost, not because of the facts of the case. He then disparages Washington City Paper, saying the paper only reports the most “salacious” details about city politics so other media will follow along. Then he says it would be improper for LL to write about Karim’s personal past and do damage to his department and its important work.

“I would imagine that we’ve all had problems with our families,” Karim says. “It would be one thing if I had committed some kind of heinous crime.”

Gunn filed a second protective order against Karim in January 2010, saying he was harassing her on a continuous basis and she was “fearful of her life and safety.” A judge signed a temporary order, before Gunn asked in March 2010 that the case be dismissed because she said Karim had stopped harassing her. Gunn did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Besides the protective orders, court records show that Karim had a $5,522 federal tax lien filed against him in 2003. He’s also been sued multiple times by a landlord and alleged to have defaulted on student loans and not paid child support. Karim says he’s had financial problems in his past and is working to resolve them.

Karim is the brother of Omar Karim, a developer and fraternity brother to former Mayor Adrian Fenty who is at the heart of an ongoing council investigation into allegedly improper park construction contracts. Omar Karim’s company, Banneker Ventures, hired Gunn’s engineering firm for $70,000 to do work related to the park contracts, according to The Washington Post.

Talib Karim briefly made news during last year’s mayoral campaign when his organization, the Muslim Democratic Caucus, endorsed Gray. The Post reported that Gray was shocked by the endorsement and Karim’s political split from his brother, an ardent Fenty supporter.

“I literally fell on the floor,” Gray told the Post after Karim’s group voted to endorse him in August.

The endorsement lead to Karim working on Gray’s transition team. On the Muslim Democratic Caucus’s Yahoo! Group message board, Karim posted notices about meetings for caucus members to learn more about efforts to “help Muslims in DC secure jobs in the incoming Gray administration and DC Council.” Karim told caucus members that if they were interested in a District government job, they should submit their résumés directly to him.

In a later message, Karim wrote that “businesses and entrepreneurs interested in forming key relationships with the new Administration can email [Karim] to purchase tickets for the Muslim Dems VIP seating” at the Gray inauguration.

And in a message marked “DC Muslim Dems Make History,” Karim wrote that on Dec. 31, 2010, Gray “[lived] up to his promise to include the Muslim community in his Administration, [and appointed] Talib I. Karim, Chairman of the Muslim Democratic Caucus of DC, as a top official in the Department of Health Finance.” (The Post first reported last week that Karim had been hired.)

The department is actually called the Department of Health Care Finance. Karim says the transition team recommended him for the job. City records show he started working for DHCF on Jan. 3, 2011, the first full day of Gray’s administration and two weeks before DHCF Director Wayne Turnage took the reins of the department. Last week, when questioned about the hiring and firing of Sulaimon Brown—who has accused the mayor of lying and has strongly suggested Gray promised him a job prior to taking office—Turnage said emphatically that “all decisions about personnel begin and end with me.”

Gray’s spokeswoman, Linda Wharton-Boyd, tells LL the administration is looking into Karim’s background. “The initial vetting process only revealed financial challenges and an intra-family/child custody dispute with a former wife,” she e-mails. “Given the mayor’s Monday directive of an extensive top down review of all excepted service appointees, additional details have come to light. The matter is under review by the agency director.”

The parts of Karim’s résumé that are available online show he’s had a varied career. His previous jobs include working as a counsel on Capitol Hill, first for Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and more recently for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Karim says much of the work he did on the Hill was related to health care–related issues.

Karim tells LL he was a “natural fit” to be paired with Turnage, who recently worked for the state of Virginia. Why? Because Karim is familiar with how to navigate the world of District politics and government. LL can’t argue with him there.


  1. #1

    Call me disappointed. Why can't these clowns use their brains to engage in some real graft? The salary should be the beginning, not an end in itself. No wonder we're the Last Colony.

  2. #2

    It's mind blowing how far back we are slipping and how quickly. Laufhing stock of the country from one of the best in the nation in 60 days.

  3. #3

    out with BROWN and GRAY. a disappointment and embarrassment to the whole city.

  4. #4

    Did Karim embezzle millions from city coffers? I don't see how Karim's court case makes him unemployable. So he's an asshole.

  5. #5

    @Charlie Sheen Let's forget Karim's alleged bullying. The judge said he's a lousy lawyer! In this town, that's a real crime.

  6. #6

    Adrian gets to sit back and watch it all roll (no pun on navigate intended) downhill into the manure pile. If it weren't for Uncle Peter Nickles, he would still be there.

  7. #7

    LOL@Charle Sheen; what a mess this city is in with it's new leadership. Darling, if they thought former King Fenty was terrible and a jerk, Kwame and Gray have more entertainment with disappointment for the citizenry.

  8. #8

    Wow. The ONE CITY implosion continues. The real question is, when will the One Citidiots finally feel some buyer's remorse?

  9. #9

    I keep telling people that Vince Gray won't be any better then Fenty.

  10. #10

    Why would Gray need the support of a douche like this to begin with is beyond me. The Karims don't have any true loyalty and they've jumped ship on Fenty because they saw the signs. For Gray to embrace them with such ease is just disturbing. Come on Vince, we had such high expectations for you. What's happening?

  11. #11

    This is disturbing. A guy who can't manage his own finances and can't manage competent legal representation (his chosen profession) is given a position of authority over one-quarter of the D.C. budget.

    Gray's post-hoc review can't do much to rekindle my confidence at this point, since they admit that they already knew this information and appointed him anyway.

  12. #12

    DC...it's going to be a LONG, four years. #urinmyprayers...

  13. #13

    *sigh* This is about as stupid as stupid can be. What does this court case have to do with whether the guy should have been hired?

    This is another assault on Gray, plain and simple.

    There seems to be a "familiarity" among all those who have made "news" since January.

    No need to wonder what the connection is.

  14. #14

    And Adrian, unless you know something the rest of us don't, there is very little "true" loyalty in politics.

  15. #15

    How is having debt problems eight years ago relevant to job performance? Maybe this guy shouldn't be hired. But I don't think someone's credit history from eight years ago not to mention their student loan problems are relevant. What's next? Some Gray hire dinned and dashed in high school? Another Gray hire has some overdue books?

  16. #16

    This is what DC wanted, so this is what DC deserves. There is no way both the Mayor & Chairman could be from east of the river without some deals being made. Sad to say the deals are rolling out crashed & burned right before the publics eyes..

    When will people wake up and realize voting is a serious issue and not some shake a hand shake a hand free for all.

  17. #17

    SEis4ME- come on now, if my brother is the biggest recipient of local government contracts and I bail ship on his guy, it's not without some serious consideration from both of us. Look at the emails T Karim sent out after Gray's victory. All he cared about was setting himself up and his allies in a new administration. It had nothing to do with belief in one candidate's vision over another. It had to do with self-interest. That's as low as gets and Gray should have recognized it from the beginning. Now's he sharing some of the taint. I wouldn't blindly defend Gray for associating with such cronies. It's not right and not what Gray promised. I expected more from him because he always seemed to be an honorable man. If I was wrong in that assessment, I have no problem changing the name to Vince Broke-Me and doing my best to call it as I see it. If I did anything differently, then I would be no better than Drez or his boyfriend- blinded hypocrites.

  18. #18

    LL, please investigate reports from the Wilson Bldg that Stephanie Rice, COS for DOES, has been detailed to HR to re-write political appointee resumes so that in case the press start snooping, they will appear to be qualified for the positions they were bogusly put in. If true and it probably is, there is just no end to this unchecked case of political diarrhea. LL, stay tuned and keep your faucet on. Folk in the Gray admin are secretly not happy with Gray and his co-horts and are leaking tidbits out faster than humanly possible.

  19. #19

    This is as stupid as that whole fence thing during the campaign. A lot of people have debts, and sadly, a lot of people have marital problems of the type described here. This is a terrible invasion of privacy and to what end? I agree with "Charlie Sheen" here. Some of these posters are trying just a little too hard to stir up outrage over relatively minor flaws which are irrelevant to the suitability for the job.

  20. #20

    Credit history is not an indicator of employment --and those have included them in their hiring process may find themselves in court. But basic criminal background checks are easy --and within the resources of the District to do. Additionally, within a political position--a STRONG argument can be made you need to have a past free of criminal entanglements.

  21. #21

    It hasn't registered that David Catania could be behind this? If he doesn't want you in Health Care Finance, he has you investigated. Also why are all of the Black Councilmembers being investigated? I am sure that David Catania, Jack Evans and Jim Graham has done something wrong their whole time on the Council. Do it across the board and see what you come up with.

  22. #22

    Come on, finally, the press could get some of their FOIA requests responded to--transparency in the Gray government--that they couldn't in the Fenty administration. That's all that's going on. I've seen Talib's resume, and he is qualified for the job. He has a body of experience that points toward health policy and knowledge, even clerking for Dysmally back in the early 90s after he received his law degree. The man's been on the Hill working on health policy. I know for a fact that he was looking to get hired for other DC government jobs, so I don't think it's about cronyism for this one. He's qualified. That other clown, Sulaiman, is an idiot and his resume speaks for itself.

    It's too bad DHCF's getting all the dregs though.

  23. #23

    @digdeeper, you hit the nail on the head. Jack Evans knows where the bones are buried. The press needs to check into uncle Jack and esp. Catania, who fires his constituent services staffer for supporting Gray. It seems like a whole sale assassination of all the African-American male leaders. Whoa, part of that plan to make DC latte? Unnecessary. Just let the people do their jobs.

  24. #24

    Uhhh, "anyonymous" / "dig deeper" - a few things. First of all, Marion Barry and Michael Brown aren't being investigated by anyone. Secondly, I'd love to "let people do their jobs", except in the case of Kwame, doing his job apparently means paying $13k for an office renovation, and pushing for a $2k/month SUV, and utterly failing to follow campaign finance accounting standards, but that's news for next week. In Harry Thomas's case, doing his job means having a shady non-profit with no documentation accept donations from developers, etc. and buy an Audi SUV... so the media and others have to keep an eye on these fools, lest they rob the government blind.

    Also, have to love a reference to "The Plan". These comments are absurd, and just go to show that there is a base of folks in this city who are terrified of DC becoming a world-class city, and would rather have 1992 in perpetuity.

  25. #25

    Credit history is most certainly a key issue for many positions. That is why a lot of firms, especially financial institutions, run credit and background checks on candidates. It is never a good look to higher somebody for a post like this who has jacked up personal finances - because they do things like lease cars the city can't afford. If they are living outside their means on their own dime they are going to do it on the city's, too. SMH ... All these folks who hailed Gray as the second coming are gonna come to realize that the corny high-yellow guy with the white momma wasn't so bad after all when these clowns are done. That's what they get.

  26. #26

    Rake- sadly I'm with you on a lot of your points. However, I don't believe for a second that Fenty was ever the driving force behind any of the great things that happened to be going on in the City these last few years. And I certainly don't believe that he had the mental capacity to get DC to become a world class city, given the times. Fenty rode a very high wave, right until it crashed. I was hoping that Gray would be the astute paddler willing to hold it all together until the tides even out, but I might be wrong on this. I definitely wasn't wrong on Fenty though. Have any of you ever had an actual conversation with the man? Complete airhead.

  27. #27

    LL - Please learn how to spell before you diss anyone.
    ("The endorsement lead to Karim working on Gray’s transition team.")

  28. #28

    Mr. Gray....Please do some DAMAGE CONTROL! Wow! This getting crazier by the day! It is such a shame!

    Oh...Mr. Biddle please sit down and shut up!You are a big joke! You will never get my vote. You are such a loser!

  29. #29

    OH.......LL please get a hold of the GHETTO FAB letter that your girl Yvette Alexander sent out today! She is trying to explain how she spent her constitutes money! The press release is a bunch of lies! She need to go! I hope she knows she will NOT be reelected!

    Please start looking for another job now! Your time is up in Ward 7......Making Ward 7 one......Whatever!

  30. #30

    @ABM & Rake-






  31. #31

    Noodlez....according to Rake

    March 3rd, 2011
    2:10 pm #4
    Al, will you be doing serial stories on Jimmy Grahams boy Ted? I think that this story deserves some ink? Not just a blurb in your round-up with news.


    March 3rd, 2011
    3:28 pm #5
    Really, there was a LL story about Ted Loza from mid-February - you know, when that information was relevant.

    March 3rd, 2011
    4:07 pm #6
    Rake...was it one story or two?

    March 3rd, 2011
    5:01 pm #72 on 2/18
    1 on 2/14
    1 on 1/5
    1 on 12/13
    1 on 12/10...I'm sure you get the picture.

    Search is your friend, Really...

    March 3rd, 2011
    5:11 pm #8
    Wait, so the Ted story is no longer relevant?

    And considering the the vehicles have been returned, how is this story any more relevant than the Ted one?

    March 3rd, 2011
    5:15 pm #9
    Rake even by your own investigation you get my point!

  32. #32

    I don't see anything in this article that would disqualify Talib Karim outright from holding this position. It's just the usual dirt that LL likes to dig up to make the Citypaper worth reading slightly more than fish wrapping paper.

  33. Concerned Christian

    Why was Talib Karim's religious faith a part of this story? We are having enough trouble in this country preventing bias against Muslims without the City Paper resorting to the same tactics of mentioning the Islamic faith of someone accused of committing terrible acts. I have never seen the City Paper mention the Christian faith of any District politician caught committing a bad act. This is a terrible precedent in a post 9-11 world rife with anti-Muslim bias.

  34. #34

    His faith is part of the story because Karim made it part of the story--read the article, doofus.

    The number of ridiculous "digging up dirt on black men" comments on here is appalling. Not one of those comments suggests the story isn't 100% accurate. Apparently, the world is supposed to ignore the criminal records and financial irresponsibility of appointees who handle tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money because to talk about it is...racist? Give me a f**king break.

  35. #35

    With the Washington Post and in many ways CP being the oppinion shaping forces they are in this town, VG doesn't stand much of a chance media wise that is, pay attention to their systematic assault, I certainly am. The guy has been in office less than two months and already he's the worst thing since the sinking of the titanic. I'm not that easily led, I believe this dog can hunt but, you have to get out of his way and let him do what he does. I don't remember all of this attempted micro managing with AF, oh I all most forgot he was too intimidating hmmm..

  36. #36

    To be fair, WCP goes after everyone. It is the post that was Fenty's lap dog. I look at this and wonder if it really matters that the man had a messy divorce. [though he could have gotten a classmate or somebody to represent him].

    The mayor does need to do some damage control. Maybe the background checks will help. But it seems like we are grasping at straws when we start with the whole family thing [and let's be honest, we've gossiped about more servers domestic matters on this thread].

    I don't buy the racial attempt. Graham was in this mess last year [paying for abortions on his credit card].

    With all the rambling I have done tonight, I will say good job City Paper. You are attempting to keep politicians honest.

  37. #37

    All it took was a tabloid story to get these white reports chomping at the bit at Brown/Gray. I won't say they don't deserve it but the story is getting a bit old and tired, considering the city is still facing a 322 million dollar budget deficit. Of course, a reporter would have rise up out of the trash they call 'breaking news' and do some real investigative work to tackle a real story that will impact every resident of the District of Columbia.

    They report about Sessoms of UDC but fail to do a comparative analysis between his job perks and those of other college presidents in the region. Had they done their homework, they'd find that their story was really no story. Their sophomoric attempts to tie a college president with local politicians is laughable and unworthy of serious contemplation.

  38. #38


  39. #39

    I had such high expectation for Gray. Just thought that somehow it would be different. I voted for Brown because there was no other candidate. What the hell. All of these old politicians need to go. This is why we can not get ahead in the District. Why are we asking for voting rights when we can not even manage our government. Enough is enough. Dang!

  40. #40

    @DCRez: "I won't say they don't deserve it" - then don't spend the rest of the post arguing that they don't deserve it, then. Oh, re: Sessoms, and do you really feel that UDC (and its leader) is comprable with any of the other schools in DC like Georgetown, GW, American, and Catholic? As Ed Lover would say, "c'mon son".

    @Dang, Sorry you're disappointed in Gray and Brown. Glad to see others jumping off the One Citidiot bus. It only goes in reverse.

  41. #41

    I, too, would like a six-figure job with the DC government. How many restraining orders, allegations, court appearances, liens, parking tickets, overdue credit cards and short-term stints with previous employers will I need?

  42. Are we there yet?

    All of this is interesting regarding the personnel issues of the Gray administration. Let's see Fenty's biggest personnel issue was Michelle Rhee but his down fall was Peter Nickels.

    Are the pool of applicants so small in this city that the only way you can get a job is to support a mayoral candidate? Then again the only way you can lose a job is to support a mayoral candidate.

    I know we are saying that Gray has been the Mayor for less than 100 days but this is ridiculous. As we are constantly being told of furloughs, budget cuts and other drastic measures. Yet, we have people who are probably receiving their 4th paycheck on their six figure salary and seemingly don't have a care in the world.

    LL look into those of the Gray administration who are securing enormous amounts of over-time as this is a supplement to the furlough. The One City motto has morphed into One Way or Another.

  43. #43

    In 3 years time, this guy worked for Michael Brown, Eleanor Norton, and now Dept of Health Care Finance?

    What's with all the job-hopping? And what do his former co-workers say about him?

  44. Concerned Christian


    Karim did not "make it part of the story", he sent out an email to his group listserv - this is a private announcement announcing his intent to help his group members find employment, not a public announcement. And are you alleging that no Christian employee of the District ever did the same for their church, because no one has ever mentioned a District employee's church networking activities when discussing a scandal in DC politics. If you can prove otherwise, provide a link.

    Of course, you end your point with an ad hominem attack, so you probably cannot be trusted to construct an intellectually honest argument.

  45. Concerned Christian


    And if you think Karim's group's endorsement of Gray makes them part of the story, that fails the smell test as well, because many churches in this city rally behind specific candidates, but I never hear the name of the church come up when individual members are caught up in malfeasance. Karim is probably a member of any number of groups, why only mention the Muslim one? How about his alumni organization where he went to college? His local PTA? I mean, come on now.

  46. #46

    This is a mess really everyone who was appointed by Gray's administration needs to be fired. Just because you worked at Capitol Hill doesn't mean you should get a pass for very shady behavior. Of course Gray isn't any better than the other mayor's probably the worst in history. The fact that Gray is over allowing an idiot of a man like the President of UDC come and stir up trouble.

    What goes around comes around for sure.

  47. #47

    What is very interesting about the Gray Administration is Mayor Gray was warned about both con artist, Lorraine Green and Allen Sessoms months ago. It appears the more you warn the Mayor the more he throws you under the bus.

  48. DC Respected Common People

    The 160K dollar Communication Director, Linda Boyd Wharton with the Phd speaks up for Gray in support of Karim, as her brother earns a job in the administration, what an interesting profile.

    Linda you know that this salary is too high for you to receive, as our city undergoes a deficient. Why don't you seek a reduction knowing that our President of the USA staff salary is lower than yours.

    Speaking of fat-ass Stephanie Reich, her placement should have been in Human Services not at the Department of Employment Services being the modifier of Gray Appointees resumes that have criminal blemish.

    Fenty nor Gray were competent for their roles as Mayor of our city. One is younger and the other old as hell.

    If change is to come, the people of all races and social economic status must DEMAND it, because GRAY is not living up to his commitment, while protecting the wrongs of the influential and his male and female puppies.

    Before concluding, know that Fenty beat his wife twice and she lied to defend him. But, Gray beat his wife, who is regretfully deceased.

    This Mayo served his wife with divorce papers while she laid in the hospital near death from cancer, knowing he was a heavy smoker and she never smoked. His horrific smoking habit reflects when one observes his yellow slanted top and botton teeth.

    Linda Greene, who loves power help your new boyfriend with a new and improved image major overhaul:

    1) Removal of bald spots on shoe black perm weave hair,
    2) Overall teeth upgrade for daily not partial wear,
    3) Skin tona to change that ugly ass paleness,
    4) Adopt some courage to deal with the rich whites and
    jews folks

  49. #49

    The Media is full of lies, there are two sides to every story and the truth in the middle, One thing I notice is that people actas if they have never been involved in a domestic dispute, Marriage is not easy esp in america and truth be told I know Mr Talib is a stand up man, I grew up with him and still talk with him, he has always been a fighter for the under dog, Keep fightin Brother even when they try to slander you.

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