Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems Edition

A deliberative roundup of one city's local politics. Send your tips, releases, stories, events, etc. to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. And get LL Daily sent straight to your inbox every morning!


  • You'll Have to Wait a Bit Longer For Councilmember Harry Thomas' Side of the Story
  • Good morning sweet readers! Nanny state idea LL can get behind: no engine should require special tools and more than 30 minutes to replace spark plugs. News time:

    Mo' Money, Mo' Problems: The Washington Post continues its colonoscopy of Mayor Vince Gray's mayoral campaign with another bruising front-page tale of incompetence and possible criminal wrongdoing on the part of people Gray trusted. This time around, reporter Nikita Stewart zeros in on the campaign's apparent practice of accepting cash donations above the $25 legal limit and improperly converting them to money orders. Stewart also found in Gray's campaign donation records "donations from people who say they didn’t contribute to his mayoral bid." Yikes. What say you, Mr. Mayor? "'If there were mistakes that were made and they were willful, obviously, people should be held accountable,' said Gray, adding that because he was a late entry into the race, he had to quickly launch a campaign apparatus. 'It was a truncated campaign. . . . It was very chaotic. You had to trust people to run what they were responsible for.'"

    Reuben Charles, a businessman Gray met in May 2010 who quickly took over the lion's share of fundraising for the Gray campaign (and who wasn't vetted by the campaign but had a mountain of unpaid debt in the Midwest), did not respond to the Post's request for comment. Mystery man Howard Brooks, who has been accused of improperly giving former minor mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown cash and was responsible for raising funds from the taxicab industry—where much of the over-the-limit cash money came from, according to the Post—declined to comment. The best the Gray camp could do on deadline was an anonymous Gray aide who "insisted that the campaign did not engage in an effort to evade the law but that someone at campaign headquarters unknowingly broke city campaign finance rules when that person exchanged a handful of money orders for cash contributions."

    Okay, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, then how to explain the people listed as campaign donors who say they never gave money? In any event, this kind bush-league campaign tomfoolery wouldn't amount to much all by itself. We're not talking big bucks here. But with the feds still investigating l'affaire Sulaimon, expect plenty of TV crews tracking down the mayor today, giving this story some legs and continuing the narrative that Gray puts his trust in people who don't deserve it. And... the Gray administration just issued a statement late this morning saying it "is working diligently and at full strength in moving my agenda forward, and in no way are we distracted by the ongoing investigation of a campaign that ended more than eight months ago." Yeah, right. No one's distracted by this mess.

    AFTER THE JUMP: Dissension in the Ranks; Welfare Reform; Not a Sorority Strip Club...

    Dissension in the Ranks: Examiner columnist Harry Jaffe follows up on the slow burning feud between Police Chief Cathy Lanier and one of her top commanders, Hilton Burton. The pair have traded accusations of being liars over the whole Charlie Sheen escort fiasco. A recent IG report backs up Burton's version of events, Jaffe says. Says Burton of the report: "I've been smiling from ear to ear ... It vindicated everything I said to the council."

    Hand Up, Not Out: The mayor highlighted his efforts to reform the city's welfare system yesterday by creating more job opportunities for long-term welfare recipients. No, the media did not give it much coverage.

    In other news:

    • D.C. Lottery hitting the brakes even on demo online gambling.
    • After murder suspect’s escape, D.C. Superior Court implements new security procedures.
    • Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. says reports that he supported a strip club in his ward are false.
    • Michelle Rhee moves to Nashville so her kids can be closer to father. Will split time between Nashville and Sacramento, which is something probably no other person has ever done.
    • Developer seizing on St. Elizabeths as a catalyst for redevelopment near Congress Heights Metro station.
    • Gray: long-winded and boring.
    • DCPS, union will discuss more exceptions for fired teachers.
    • DYRS supervisor accused of sexually abusing employee.
    • Did D.C. police destroy evidence in Pershing Park case?
    • Developer Anthony Lanier visits a Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh event.

    Gray sked: 360 H Street groundbreaking, 360 H St. NE, 10:30 a.m., Washington Post online chat (!), 1 p.m., Interview with Deborah Simmons, 2:15 p.m., Desk work and staff meetings, 3 p.m.

    Council sked: Recess.

    • incredulous

      "Michelle Rhee moves to Nashville so her kids can be closer to father. Will split time between Nashville and Sacramento, which is something probably no other person has ever done."

      At last, a mention of real life constraints on Rhee's behavior. Not to mention possible family court constraints. And, the latter ought to be looked into, not for invasion of her or her children's privacy, but because the rest of the hooplah about the most fashionable shoes in American Education might be less over the top.

    • incredulous 2

      Where does credit go for this? Hubby needs to show some cred as FATHER in his new position as Chief State School Officer for Tennessee, (considering the average large cost of broken marriages on children's educational outcomes)?

      Or is the sex in Sacramento.......less than compelling......better for being more infrequent?

      Or does ex-hubby Kevin now rival Mayor Kevin in octane for power-hungry Palin - behave -alike?

    • drez

      The other part of converting cash donations to money orders is that this sort of bundling strips the identity of those donating.
      That $50,000+ in campaign donations is essentially laundered money.

    • Truth Hurts

      Sure Gray knows nothing about the cash, that's credible. The cabbies conspicuously passed a bucket around in plain view of Gray, who was meeting and greeting, and generated about $1,500 in dough ... in addition to tens of thousands bucks of other donations given to the fundraiser host.

      Interesting that Brooks and Charles, one city's confidants, ain't talking either. Here's hoping Nikita also exposes the bankroll Peebles funneled to one city's campaign.

    • Anothernative

      Adrian Fenty skyrocketed into millions of dollars almost instantaniously and not a damned thing was said. The WAPO editorial division lost all of their power and accreditation in the last election by backing the wrong horse, now they're acting like vendictive bitches, they need to do some real reporting for a change.

    • drez

      Still, a senior aide to the campaign said he worries about the impact of the allegations. “With all these stories, it’s become clear that there were two campaigns — the legitimate campaign, and then a rogue operation that was undermining what we were trying to do,” he said. “It’s a shame because Vince ran for mayor to change the way city government did business, and these idiots either didn’t get that memo, or just tore it up.”
      Ya think?
      Maybe Gray should introduce the two and see how they get along. One City, right?

    • DT

      Another bullshit story from Post bias