Loose Lips Daily: Paging Howard Brooks Edition
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good afternoon sweet readers! LL had to hoof it to the Wilson Building this morning for a new two-hour long mayoral news conference, in which hardly any news was made because the mayor now won't take questions on uncomfortable topics. (Oh yeah, Mayor Vince Gray picked Kaya Henderson to be his permanent schools chancellor, but you knew that already.) Anyway, that's why this roundup is so late. News time:
Paging Howard Brooks: There's a pair of stories today that aim to shed more light on Howard Brooks, one of the more mysterious characters in L'affaire Sulaimon. Brooks, you'll recall, is the man putting envelops full of cash into Sulaimon Brown's jacket, according to Brown. He's also, we learn today, connected to two of the cloudier intersections of money and influence in District politics: the United Medical Center and the District's lottery contract. The Post reports that one of Brooks' companies used to run a radiology unit at UMC, had a falling out with the hospital's previous owners, and is now claiming the District owes it $10 million (a claim, it should be noted, that probably has zero chance of winning in court). We also learn that Brooks feels close enough to Gray that in late 2007 or early 2008, he asked the then-D.C. Council chairman for help with his payment disputes with UMC, and Gray dispatched his former chief of staff (Dawn, what happened to you? Call LL) to try and get the situation resolved. Other tidbits: Brooks lets Gray use his baby-blue 1966 Cadillac convertible for summer parades, and Brooks' son has a $110,000-a-year job in the Gray administration.
But over at the Examiner, Gray says that he knows Brooks, "But I don't know him well." Hmm, define well. The Examiner also reports that another of Brooks' companies lost a big lawsuit then declared bankruptcy. More interesting is the fact that Brooks is the "brother-in-law of P. Leonard Manning, who earned an extra year on a $38 million lottery contract in 2008 as Gray, then D.C. Council chairman, maneuvered to block a Fenty ally. During the mayoral campaign, Fenty argued that Manning was a crony whom Gray was trying to protect." Gray denied those allegations. It's worth noting that besides Brown's allegations of the cash-giving, there's no record of Brooks ever behaving in a similar fashion. In fact, the Examiner talks to a lawyer related to the bankruptcy who dug around for an opportunity to sue Brooks. "At the end of the day, our assessment was that there was nothing evil about him. The business just failed."
AFTER THE JUMP: More Sulaimon!; Grilling Sessoms; Change the Signs ...
Must Have More Sulaimon: Are you getting sick of this guy yet? Well too bad. Check out this graphic by the Post, it's pretty cool. Yesterday Sulaimon Brown visited Republican staffers of the House Oversight Committee, just to talk. Says the Post, "the committee reached out to Brown to learn what process the city is using to investigate and whether he has any concerns." LL is sure that was a productive meeting. (LL's editor, who used to write about national politics, is amused by the idea of Darrell Issa teaming up with Sulaimon Brown.) Also, yesterday, WUSA9's Bruce Johnson tweeted that he was about to knock down some of Brown's unsubstantiated allegations. "Washington Post started this on Sunday. Reporters stand up!" Johnson says. So, which allegation did Johnson knock down? Why, it's the one that only Johnson reported on: Brown's totally unfounded claim that Gray paid precinct workers to somehow rig the vote during last year's primary. And by knocking down, Johnson means he just basically talked to Gray and the BOEE. In other Sulaimon-related news, Lorraine Green, another Gray aide who stands accused of giving Brown cash, won't have a confirmation hearing to be chairman of the Washington Convention and Sports Authority anytime soon. And the IG won't be leading the investigation because he interviewed Brown for a job in January.
Grilled Sessoms: UDC President and frequent first-class flier Allen Sessoms got a good going over by the D.C. Council yesterday, including a dressing down by Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown. "What you can't do is sit there and take no responsibility" says Brown (cough, cough). Apparently Sessoms has the proverbial note from his doctor saying he has to fly first class, but some councilmembers weren't buying it. One however, had his back. Says Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry: "I'm not going to travel to California on coach." LL and you, both, Barry. First class all the way.
Change the Signs: Greater Greater Washington gets ahold of an e-mail from the city administrator's office regarding signage on city-owned property. It reads, "All ongoing project and site signage must be updated as soon as possible to reflect the change in leadership. All projects signs bearing former administration leadership (Mayor, Agency Heads etc.) must either be replaced or covered with new leadership names. I believe the City Administrator has discussed this issue with some of you. If not, this is a priority he has asked me to work with you and your staff in accomplishing as quickly as possible." Well, at least it's not Chicago, where Richard Daley had his name on just about everything by the time he left.
In other news: Kaya's appointment is a "hopeful moment for the city's schools" says the WaPo. Gray knew of Cherita Whiting's legal troubles before hiring her, e-mail says. More gay marriages than straight in D.C.? David Alpert warns against going crazy with scandal outrage. House Democrat from New Jersey talks smack about Fenty.