Loose Lips

So Long, Sulaimon

Sulaimon Brown's D.C. Fame Ends

Like most of the D.C. political world, LL went from giving Sulaimon Brown almost no attention to giving him way too much.

Brown’s story arc is by now familiar: He went from a joke of a mayoral candidate to a local semi-celebrity, after accusing Mayor Vince Gray of improperly plying him with cash and job promises during the election.

The apex of Brown’s popularity came Monday, when he held court for several contentious hours before a D.C. Council committee that’s investigating the various hiring screw-ups of the early days of the Gray administration.

Ever mindful of the massive media attention he was to receive, Brown wore sunglasses and refused to take them off, saying he had stayed up late preparing for his testimony and didn’t want the press to snap pictures of his tired eyes. (Sure enough, a giant photo of Brown’s mug and sunglasses made the front of The Washington Post’s Metro section on Tuesday.) The glasses, along with Brown’s belligerent behavior—which included calling two councilmembers “delusional,” one “racist,” and the mayor a “crook”—led many to speculate that Brown was on drugs. (LL told Brown this after the hearing, and he took off his glasses to show that he was not, indeed, high.)

That kind of shtick, paradoxically, strengthens the case that Brown must have been promised a job, as he says. Otherwise, who would hire such a man?

But antics aside, Brown’s testimony failed to produce any new proof of his allegations. That leaves plenty of circumstantial evidence of potential wrongdoing by Gray’s campaign aides, but nothing that presents a real threat to the mayor.

And that means Brown’s time in the spotlight is likely coming to a rapid end. Unless the feds or Congress unexpectedly take his allegations against the mayor seriously, Brown’s moment of glory seems to have passed, and he’ll likely soon fade back into obscurity.

And that’s a good thing.

Of all the characters in District politics, Brown ranks up there as one of the most bizarre. At times mild-mannered, good humored, and reasonable, Brown is also an attention hound who has delusions of grandeur, seems mildly paranoid, has trouble with the truth, and most importantly, has consistently proven himself to be his own worst enemy.

It’s clear from watching Brown this last year or so that the last thing the man needs is more attention. Give him a platform with lots of TV cameras nearby, and the bad Sulaimon comes out. Talk to him one-on-one, and he approaches something close to normal.

So let’s be happy for Brown that the days of his mug appearing in newspapers are likely coming to an end. But let’s also take one final moment to recap his strange career.

Brown’s name first shows up in the archives in a 2006 Post story about former Mayor Adrian Fenty’s first campaign, which foreshadows the drama Brown would have with Gray.

The 2006 version of Brown is described as a “disgruntled” former Fenty campaign volunteer who filed a complaint with the Office of Campaign Finance after noticing that Fenty’s campaign filings didn’t add up.

“Brown acknowledged that he quit the campaign after Fenty treated him ‘with arrogance and disrespect,’ insisting that he accompany Fenty to a campaign event even though Brown had a chest cold,” the story says, adding that Brown was also upset at not getting a paid position in Fenty’s campaign.

Fast forward a few years, and Brown is one of the first to announce his intention to challenge Fenty’s re-election bid. But Brown had a hard time being taken seriously. Cherita Whiting, who by a stroke of fate just happened to be the other witness at Monday’s hearing, tells the story of Brown being a pest at Gray’s November 2009 birthday party. Whiting says she showed up with her father, go-go legend Chuck Brown, when Sulaimon Brown ran up to give Chuck his card.

“I told Sulaimon my daddy’s here for Vincent Gray,” says Whiting. “I snatched the card out of my dad’s hand and threw it on the ground.”

Brown, who spent most of his time as a candidate showing up at debates to bash Fenty, would have similar luck getting the attention of the media during the race—that is, until he yelled at LL.

Brown had tried to crash the last debate between Fenty and Gray in Georgetown a week before the election. He sat at the candidates’ table and refused to leave until organizers threatened to call the police. After the debate, Brown chastised LL for disparaging his chance of winning, before getting into a Mercedes with Maryland plates and driving away.

LL ran the plates and found the Mercedes was registered to Brown, who also had a Maryland driver’s license. When LL asked about the car and license, Brown swore up and down they weren’t his. LL’s subsequent blog post about Brown’s license and car was the most media attention Brown got the whole race. He wound up getting only 209 votes, the fewest of any candidate and 39 less than “write-in.”

(In the subsequent council investigation, it came out that Brown listed his Maryland driver’s license on a background check form. When LL teased Brown on Monday, asking if he’d like to revise his statement on his driver’s license, Brown laughed, then said, “No, I plead the fifth. Just joking.”)

After the primary, Brown all but disappeared. Until February, when the Post reported that he had a $110,000-a-year job as a health-care finance auditor. That led to all kinds of questions from reporters. The mayor said Brown was qualified for the position.

Not 24 hours later, Brown was fired and had to be escorted out of his office by police, setting off a media frenzy. When Gray called an impromptu news conference, Brown crashed it and tearfully told reporters an article by LL had contributed to his ouster, a view Brown still holds today. (It turns out, according to testimony from Brown’s former bosses, that Brown was dismissed for harassing female co-workers.)

So LL figured he and Brown would no longer be on speaking terms. But a few weeks after being fired, then leveling his explosive allegations in the Post and becoming a media sensation, Brown apologized to LL for his September outburst, and he’s been in semi-regular contact since.

LL even arranged to buy Brown a drink after his testimony Monday. But just as they were leaving the Wilson Building, Brown, pleading fatigue, begged off. So LL and Brown hung out outside for a bit, relieving the past year, while some well-wishers shook hands with Brown. One told him he believed every “goddam word” Brown had said during his testimony.

When LL asked what Brown’s plans for the future include, Brown said: “Get back on the horse, keep riding.”

Good luck cowboy, and so long.

SIMPLE ADDITION

Attorney General Irv Nathan essentially accused Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. this week of stealing public money from D.C. kids and using it to buy a pricey German SUV.

Thomas says he’s innocent. If the allegations are true, however, Thomas’ political career is most likely kaput. But he wouldn’t be the only one with some explaining to do.

The A.G.’s civil suit against Thomas also makes the D.C. Child & Youth Investment Trust Corporation—a non-profit set up by the city to administer grants for kids’ programs—look absolutely incompetent at managing District funds.

According to the suit, Thomas’ scheme went like this: He set aside $400,000 in 2007 for the CYITC “for youth baseball programs.” The complaint says he then directed CYITC to give the money to the Langston 21, a non-profit, which according to its website is “designed to provide accessible and affordable modern golf facilities and programs.” (LL is no Tiger Woods, but he’s pretty sure golf and baseball are different sports.) Thomas had Langston 21 put $316,000 of that money into two bank accounts he controlled, the suit says. He used $60,000 of the money to buy an Audi, allegedly.

But it’s hard to imagine Thomas would have been able to get away with those alleged shenanigans if anyone at CYITC had been paying close attention.

The lawsuit has quite a few clues that Thomas and Langston 21 were connected.

For one, all of Langston 21’s paperwork came directly from Thomas’ office. Thomas’ staff would also email CYITC questions about payments of the grant money on Langston’s behalf.

For another, the lawsuit says one of the allegedly bogus invoices Thomas sent CYITC had “HLT/LSDBE” listed as an equipment supplier. “HLT Development” is one of the names of Thomas’ for-profit corporation, and HLT are Thomas’ initials. HLT Development, by the way, won about $225,000 between 2004 and 2006 from the parks department for running the same kind of programs Langston 21 told CYITC it was doing.

Also, simple addition would have shown that something was hinky with Langston 21’s records. According to the lawsuit, one invoice listed nine items that Langston 21 said it was buying in support of their youth programs, for a total of $60,000 on the nose. The list includes 70 travel bags for a total of $3,500, and 300 “training cards” for a total of $2,985, among other items. The problem is, if you add up each individual item, the total is only $58,472.50. Later, Thomas’ staff would send over another invoice for Langston’s expenditures that they said totaled $100,000, but when you add up each item, the total is $109,200. CYITC apparently paid the money without asking questions.

CYITC’s president and CEO, Ellen London, did not respond to a request for comment.

As the legal battle against Thomas continues, councilmembers will likely be deciding just how much exposure they should risk to his increasingly toxic political brand. While they’re at it, they should probably take a hard look at the CYITC as well.

Got a tip for LL? Send suggestions to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. Or call (202) 650-6951.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • RealDC

    Free Harry!!

  • Truth Hurts

    Going out on a limb, aren't you LL? I'm betting we've haven't seen the last of S. Brown.

    As for Gray being home-free, you'll likely be eating your words by this time next year.

  • Wrack

    Down with Harry Thomas and whoever on his staff played along with (AKA "aided and abetted") this ridiculous illegal fraud.

  • hymesb

    Alan,

    You should take an evidence course. You wouldn't have written this. This looks like a go to me. Circumstantial evidence is evidence.

  • drez

    Yeah...
    I have to go with TH and hymseb on this.
    Sulaimon- sun glasses or no- has made some damning statements under oath and has publicly provided documentation to back at least some of them up.
    Team Gray has yet to offer any sort of substantial rebuttal or defence to anything. In fact, to a person, they've lawyered up.
    IMO it's better than even odds that the ugliness is just beginning. I think indictments are coming.

  • Just Curious

    @ Truth Hurts - LL would likely be eating their words sooner regarding Gray and other CMs if they were interested in actually INVESTIGATING the actions of elected/appointed officials relative to the lottery contract boondoggle. While S. Brown has leveled some pretty serious accusations, I suspect it is the virtual tip of the iceberg. Will DC journos actually explore the depths and contours of the iceberg or will the continue to blindly ignore it? So far, they appear content to enjoy the ambience of the Titanic (AKA known as DC Govt) and the minor scandals that they've focused their time and attention on.

  • SEis4ME

    In Alan's defense (yes in Alan's defense), he's got just about the right characterization. Did any of you watch the testimony? Saw it for the first time last night and man was it a doozy. This man's need for attention is greater than Palin and Trump combined.

    That said, he really did fail to back his case. He could vividly remember where he was when Lorraine Green gave him (to his surprise of sorts) an envelope filled with $750 but he couldn't remember whether he ate anything at the restaurant in Union Station. When asked what initially prompted the interest in "hiring him," he said it was his "Vote Brown, Vote Gray..Not Fenty" slogan.

    Cheh tried to keep a handle on him but he was off da chain. Catania should have been ashamed for stooping to his level.

    Cherita Whiting. Whew! She really IS a character. But, didn't seem as if she was in error.

  • Wendy Washington

    "So let’s be happy for Brown that the days of his mug appearing in newspapers are likely coming to an end."

    LL, I will be happy when this happens. Hopefully, you will lead the charge by not giving this clown anymore ink. If the local broadcast outlets follow suit, they will not give him any more airtime. I am puzzled why there was no more coverage regarding his lack of D.C. residency. Given that he only received 209 votes, how did he get enough signatures to appear on the ballot?

    You are absolutely on point when it comes to Sillymon's narcissism. Frankly, anyone who has been unemployed for three years, has no track record of success in any quarter, holds a GED and bachelors from UDC, but believes that he can successfully run for with mayor, has to be beyond delusional.

    He may have caused embarrassment to the Gray administration, but this does nothing to further his job search.

  • SMH

    Well I am sure he doesn't care because he's done his damage. Gray isn't going to recover from this, and that's what Brown wanted.

  • Southeast Ken

    Reading the comment about Miss Cherita Whiting, the woman sounds like a real bitch. The word up in Ward 4, Miss Cherita Go Go Whiting was nasty towards Ward 4 DC Councilwoman Muriel Bowser during the mayoral campaign and they both dislike each other. Now, her ghetto ass is getting what she deserve. Pay back is a bitch....

    I am not a fan of Sulaimon Brown. In my book, he and Cherita 12 inch painted finger nails cut from the same cloth.

  • Debbie Brown

    LL would you take a look at Emory Recreation Center. There is money being taken in by Friends of Emory Recreation but the monies are not proportionatly be spent. Who is controlling the funds? The EIN number seems to have changed constantly.

  • Terry Miller

    I saw Cherita Whiting testify and I came away with the feeling like she was wronged. Her explanation of why she did and did not report her "past convictions" made sense to me, plus they were ten years ago. I don't know her at all and she appeared to be pretty tough, but fair is fair.

  • SEis4ME

    SEKen, I hope you don't refer to your "wife" the same manner in which you seem to prefer to women, specifically black women. Fat asses and bitches? And your wife doesn't pop you in the mouth? Never?

    As per your usual twisted logic, how does not liking a councilmember justify what she is currently experiencing as "pay back?"

    Terry Miller, never heard of her until this board, never saw her until y'day. Her lack of smoothness around the edges aside, she did make sense in what she said. Thankfully she had Wells and Barry on the board. Catania was for some reason rather cantankerous or maybe that is his personality. First time I had seen him or heard him speak as well.

  • imnotleavingdc

    @drez - Do you really think it mattered that Brown said some gave some "damning" testimony under oath? I'm doubting that he had any more respect for the oath as he does for anything/anyone else. I would not be the least bit surprised that the man lied through his teeth under oath.

    Having said that, I unfortunately think that despite the fact that Brown is clearly delusional and some other stuff, there is at the very least some shred of truth in his words. And that's too bad.

  • Daddy Grace Fish Sandwich

    I never did just this character. I don't know anything about the Whiting woman, but I've seen her on television in a lot in the past.

  • Daddy Grace Fish Sandwich

    I never did just this character (Sulaimon Brown).

  • Truth Hurts

    @ Just Curious: Do you have the letter and detailed attached memo the AG and chief contracting officer sent to the IG last fall requesting the lottery contract investigation? Don't have it at my fingertips. It's very detailed. I need an electronic version.

  • Southeast Ken

    I didn't see Cherita Whiting on the DC Council hearing, but I don't feel sorry for her. After reading all her convictions reported in the Washington Post. The woman is a serious criminal dealing with money. I can't imagine her ever working in Finance or getting a job in a bank.

    SEis4ME, what is your problem with free speech or having an opinion. A person can be bitchy by their behavior. People can also enjoy eating pig's feet and other unhealthy food.

  • Southeast Ken

    Correction: After reading all her convictions reported in the WASHINGTON TIMES.

  • Southeast Ken

    @SEis4ME, I am going by what has been reported on Cherita Whiting in the Washington Times and other news outlets. If you have a probem, I suggest you contack Jeffrey Anderson, the reporter at the Washington Times. Kudos to this guy for exposing this woman's past criminal behavior. I wouldn't hire this woman to handle or deal with money or wire transfers.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jun/7/whiting-hired-after-lie-on-felony/

  • ME4DC

    @ Debbie Brown: I heard about that money drama over there! Also they need to check out the Kingman Park Civic Association and its President Frazer Walton. A whole bunch of these organizations are stealing and funneling money to their own pockets. LL check all these rascals out!

  • Ward 4 Soror

    I've read all the comments with great interest. I am a Ward 4 resident. I can tell you, Miss Whiting is a messy character. She's posted many comments in the past on several Ward 4 yahoo listservs sharing her political views. Ward 4 is a very diversed Ward and it's home to most professional and college educated blacks in the District of Columbia.

    http://dir.groups.yahoo.com/group/anc4c09/message/3033

  • Ward 4 Soror

    I've read all the comments with great interest. I am a Ward 4 resident. I can tell you, Miss Whiting is a messy character. She's posted many comments in the past on several Ward 4 yahoo listservs sharing her political views. Ward 4 is a very diversed Ward and it's home to most professional and college educated blacks in the District of Columbia.

  • jprime

    s brown is telling the truth.why in the world do the citizens of DC keep electing these buffoons to office. evidence is evidence regardless of the source.the newspapers are saying that nothing was revealed. the DC media is complicit in this corruption.now they want to sweep S.Brown under the carpet.there is not one in depth article about what was revealed.
    the height of stupidity was reached with this Question from Former Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry:
    "Why should we believe you despite the documentation you provided?"

  • SEis4ME

    SEKen, opinions are like assholes. I questioned how your "wife" deals with you calling women, especially black women, bitches and fat asses. I'm not married. I also don't know very many of my female friends who use the word bitch or appreciate its use by someone else, especially a man. You, on the other hand, seem to take pleasure in demeanizing women.

    Further, why do I need to read an article on the hearing when I saw and heard the actual testimony. Based on what I saw, Whiting testified that she DID check no in 2010 and Yes in 2011. That's the gist of this whole controversy. No one year..yes the next. And from this, buttfks like you (whom like to refer to men as women) have labeled her as a cross between bernie madoff and jack abramoff. This is the whole story that has your depends in a bunch.

    Negro please. Find another line of work because this dog has hunted and died. You got what you want, she no longer has a job. That too, is the whole story. Certainly not the "scheme" you seem to suggest.

  • Southeast Ken

    Wow, SEis4ME you are coming off as being a bitch! My wife has her opinion on issues and I have mine. However, we don't always agree on issues, but at the end of the day, we focus on other things. On the issue of referring to individuals like Graham and Catania, some gay men act like and want to be women. I read a quote in a gay newspaper 2 years ago, DC Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh referred to DC At-Large Councilmember David Catania as being the King of the gay parade in Dupont Circle. Miss Catania replied, she was the Queen of the parade.

    With this being said SEis4ME, maybe you should find you a nice woman to spend time with and if you swing the other way, find you a nice gay man to spend time with. If not keep your dam opinions regarding me to yourself. I have a right to share how I feel on issues. If you don't like what others have to say, ignore them and move on. Geezz...

  • lioneagle

    Greetings -

    I sat through the entire hearing and am not on either side. My desire is for justice to prevail.

    That said, it was Catania who first used the word delusional at the hearing. He called Brown delusional and Brown shot the word back at Catania. It was inappropriate usage from both the councilmember and Brown.

    Council Chair of the subject committee, Mary Cheh, repeatedly chastised Brown for his improper comments but not once did she correct Catania. Marion Barry used a profanity and Cheh said nothing to address that undignified utterance from her fellow councilmember.

  • tired

    If Brown is telling the truth he sure is making it hard. He comes off like he is not totally there (mentally) who can take him seriously. Wow what a spectacle.

  • Hmmmm

    @Tired and with your comment my friend, makes me believe there was something improper going on. Who in their right mind would hire this guy if he is totally not there.

    I agree with you 100% that it is hard to take him seriously. We all see that. So how does he get a $150k job? Seems like he was promised something.

  • Pingback: So Long, Sulaimon | Auto Buy Sell , Car Care, Auto Shows

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

    I remember the first time I met Cherita Whiting at an ANC meeting in 2007. As the head of this particular ANC in Ward 4, she ran it like her own personal fiefdom. Although I'm no fan of Muriel Bowser, I thought that her elevation to Councilmember would stick in Cherita's craw; and so I see, it did.

    As for Sulaiman Brown, it's a shame that he is acting like a scorned woman, in the aftermath of this job debacle. However, when you deal with the Devil, you need to read the fine print. He may have been promised a job...but no one said how long he would keep it, if he made the Gray administration vulnerable to scrutiny. However, Mr. Brown has indeed placed the Gray administration under a microscope--for a little while.

    So DC...you should be somewhat thankful for Sulaiman's nearly Gaga-esque antics.

  • ToiletLawmakers

    One thing is for sure is that Sulaimon was up close and personal with Gray. Here is the link to the event that was held at Eatonville in August 2010. You can see Sulaimon happily peering over the shoulder of Vince Gray. This was an event put on by the "Young Professionals" (ha ha ha). Well, some didn't think it was a laughing matter when all of Vince's young un-professionals received jobs or if they were already in the govt, you better know their salaries increased significantly. Here are the pics:

    1.
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=152822971398757&set=a.152821921398862.29521.124791444201910&type=1&theater

    2.
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=152823054732082&set=a.152821921398862.29521.124791444201910&type=1&theater

    3. Lorraine and Howard Brooks were there too, along with a crackhead-looking boxer.
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=152823311398723&set=a.152821921398862.29521.124791444201910&type=1&theater

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