Loose Lips

Crisis P.R. Expert Closer than D.C. Pols May Realize

If ever a politician were in need of a crisis P.R. help, Mayor Vince Gray and Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown both fit the bill.

Gray continues to take a beating over the hiring of Sulaimon Brown and the children of his top aides, while Kwame Brown is still reeling from Navigatorgate and is now facing questions about $270,000 worth of previously unreported campaign activity.

There are reports that Gray is considering a shake-up of his staff, including his communications shop. And Brown recently parted ways with his spokeswoman, Traci Hughes.

If the pair are looking for a crisis P.R. expert, they should go have a chat with Councilmember Phil Mendelson's new chief of staff, Denise Tolliver.

Tolliver has worked for former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Councilmember Monica Conyers, both of whom had to leave office after pleading guilty to corruption charges.

A Detroit native, Tolliver cut her teeth as a TV journalist in her hometown. She says she was living in D.C. when attorneys for Kilpatrick, who was already in legal hot water over various misdeeds, offered her a job as his spokeswoman. Tolliver went back to the Motor City and flacked for Kilpatrick until he resigned and pled guilty to two felonies in 2008. (Kilpatrick is currently in federal prison.)

Tolliver then went to work for Detroit Council President Pro-Tempore Monica Conyers (wife of Congressman John Conyers). Conyers quit in 2009 after she admitted to taking bribes. (She too, is currently in federal prison.)

Tolliver describes the time working for Kilpatrick and Conyers as hard, long and stressful, but kind of exhilarating. She says she's glad she had the experience working on crises, and says it's been a boost to her career.

Asked how her experience working for embattled political figures compares to working for Mendo, Tolliver says: "Are you kidding? Oh, it's so much calmer. It is so much calmer, I love it."

  • Typical DC BS

    I'd say she's more of a bad luck charm and should stay away from anyone in trouble.

  • Wendy Washington

    Hey LL,

    Where is the follow up on the Silly Man/Sulaimon saga? Bruce Johnson broadcast an update on Sunday night and the WaPo posted theirs online last night and printed in today's edition.

  • Southeast Ken

    @Wendy Washington; I agree with your comment. Also, I haven't seen the City Paper do an article on Cherita Whiting being hired by the Gray administration at Parks & Rec. I wonder why the City Paper haven't written an article about Cherita Whiting a former felon appointed in a $65,000. position. I support former felons getting work after doing time in jail, but I wonder about Ms. Whiting's qualifications? If they are going to dig up dirt on Sulaimon Brown, then write about Ms. Whiting. Don't discriminate on whom to write alleged corruption.

  • Wendy Washington

    @SEKen, check out the WaPo article, there are over 160 reader comments about SB's various encounters with the legal system.

    It seems like WUSA is more on top of this story -- maybe I should say further out in front. Bruce Johnson seems to have gotten more info and broadcast it sooner.

  • Southeast Ken

    Thanks Wendy.

  • strange

    Southeast Ken: totally agree. Strange Citypaper is so quiet about CW

  • DC Guy

    They don't need PR specialists. They need to stop acting like dumbasses.

  • Southeast Ken

    Correction; @Strange; I don't know why the City Paper hasn't written an article on Cherita Whiting. Only the Washington Times and Washington Examiner has discussed Cherita Whiting's appointment in the Gray administration.

  • Alfred

    If you aren't seeing an update, it may be because the FBI told Mr. Brown to keep quiet, and our Mayor now has more to worry about than bad PR. The Financial Control Board is looming over us like an impending storm. Here's to hoping that the rair it bring washes away the garbage.

  • dcadvocate

    Neither Gray nor Brown needs a PR crisis manager; they simply need to resign. They is no amount of spin that will change the fact that both are products of a city culture where nepotism, pay to play politics and self-enrichment are all accepted and welcomed practices by our elected officials. I agree with the person who asked how many felony convictions and lapses in ethics and professional judgment do I need to have to qualify for the $100,000. It seems that you must have a criminal record or intent to gain some traction here. Street cred has no place in government. Law-abiding and intelligent residents really can't afford to sit out four years of mismanagement, malfeasance and misappropriations. We should all take our cue from the Middle East and revolt against this tyranny in the District of Corruption. Down with ignorance and greed.

  • dcdotcom

    I'm really "DIS" (disillusion, disappointed and distrub) with the state of DC goverment at the beginning of the new Gray adminstration. From the outside looking in, the mayor seems to be more out of touch with the masses than Fenty was. Although I don't know his daily schedule (again from the outside looking in) he seems not to come into the neighborhoods except when a ribbon cutting ceremony is schedule. I would like to see more of him out and about, does he ride bicycle or run marathons?

  • all of this is messy

    that's funny @ dcdotcom

  • deedle

    Where's the police report from SB's recent bike theft while being interviewed by the FBI? I find it ironic that a guy who rode an $1,800 bicycle was not a Fenty supporter!

  • Wendy Washington

    @deedle, thanks for pointing out that there should be a police report.

    There are far too many counts of irony within the entire Sillyman saga. First, as you said, he should have been a Fenty supporter. Oh, we should remember, he was a past Fenty supporter, who became disillusioned, then ran for mayor, then supported Gray.

    Then, he turns on Gray and gets his bike stolen while he is with the FBI. (That's a truly brazen bike thief -- if the bike was stolen from the FBI HQ.) Given Sillyman's credibility, or lack thereof, he has to prove the bike was really stolen.

  • itsjustamess

    The City Paper is doing its faithful readers a major disservice by simply turning a blind eye to Cherita Whiting's employment and her failure to fully disclose her felony conviction within the last ten years. It's highly suspect that not one article has been printed. WCP couldn't wait to splay Donna Watts' sordid saga all over its front page. Why are they holding back on Cherita who is even more salaciously scandalous than Watts could ever hope to be. I surmise Cherita has a cozy relationship with someone at the helm of WCP. Maybe she "socializes" with them as well. They her friends! I would love to see those other 66 candidates she beat out for the position she holds interviewed. It's even more interesting that Jesus Aguirre stated at a Council oversight hearing that he didn't interview Cherita and didn't request her. Basically, this Rhodes scholar and Yale graduate was dumped on DPR as a gratuity for her brash ghetto outspokenness against Fenty during the campaign. The media keeps digging up dirt on Sulaimon Brown but the real treasure will be found once they excavate and unearth Cherita's dinosaur bones from down under.

  • Brahmin

    It is very weird to have an article dedicated to singing someone praises. Sorry to hear about Tracy Hughes--she is more of an agency pr flak than knife fight down in the ally politico dynamo. He should do his best to place her.

    There are a many good PR dynamos and none want to go to the administration and/or council.

    David Lipscomb from the Washington Times is a great example of media trained, journalism experience and political experience ...but what is he doing these days?

  • itsjustamess

    Both Brown and Gray are a true PR expert worst nightmares. Doing damage control for them is like a defense attorney representing a murderer who hollers out in open court, "Yes, I did it!..The B---- deserve to die. I shot the h--- out of her 48 times with my own gun and then I dumped her stinking body in the raven 10 miles outside of town."

  • Southeast Ken

    According to the news media, the F.B.I. had been investigating former P.G. County Jack Johnson for 7 years. Who's to say, the F.B.I. might be investigating former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Mayor Vincent Gray, D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown, Miss Jim Graham, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr., Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans?

    Wow, this is a soap opera folks. 'As Turns D.C. Upside Down'.

  • Southeast Ken


    'As The World Turns D.C. Upside Down'.

  • itsjustamess

    @Southeast Ken - I just can't wait for Howard Brooks to start singing like a first soprano in a church choir. My mother always said, "There is no honor among thieves." She also said, "A kicked dog will howl." Brooks, when told Sulaimon Brown had cell phone records of calls between them, got kicked so hard in the groin area, he "howled" for his attorney. My bet's on him to cop a plea, throw Gray and Green under Kwame's navigator then jump in and drive over them. Woo-hoo! Where's my popcorn and leopard-print snuggle?

  • Southeast Ken

    itsjustamess, Bill Howland has been very quiet. He took the fall for the navigator mess. I wonder how long Howland will stay at DPW? He has worked for 3 D.C. administrations.

  • itsjustamess

    Bill Howland is probably feeling some kind of foolish right about now. Because he stayed quiet or didn't speak up loud enough and tell Kwame his request for those pimped out rides was against the law, he may end up being another rat looking for a hole to scurry into. The Pied Piper is about to blow his horn and I plan to be front and center in the grandstand watching the parade of crime-infested politicians marching off to jail or at least off the public dole. I sure hope it doesn't rain but the skies do look mighty gray...Such a nasty overcast hanging over our fair city...

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Who the fuck really wants the control board to return? I mean seriously, what do any of your idiots think this will accomplish? A more efficiently run District? Ah, yeah that's it, add another layer of government bureaucracy to the mix, that will make things go faster. How many of you actually remember how it was the last time around? DC didn't suddenly become a highly functional entity because we had republicans peering down on us. Kelly's administration had us in almost a billion dollar's in debt, similar to what Fenty left us. So if any of you want to thank anyone for making this a reality, go ahead and send Adrian some flowers and a teddy bear.