Rep. Issa: Background Checks for D.C. Gov Political Appointees
Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is proposing new legislation that would require political appointees in District government to undergo criminal background checks.
"This bill will help prevent past failures by ensuring that District of Columbia leaders are held accountable for conducting and reviewing the results of background checks when making hiring decisions," Issa said in a statement. "Unless or until District leaders stop apologizing for outrageous abuses in government and adopt measures to address these problems, congressional action is the only way to implement needed standards as a bulwark against cronyism."
So what's behind this meddling in local affairs by the Republican congressman from California? Why, it's Sulaimon Brown, of course.
Issa's committee released a report today of its investigation into how l'affaire Sulaimon. They didn't find any wrongdoing on the mayor's part, but do shed new light on what a disastrous hire Brown was as a $110,000-a-year auditor for the Department of Health Care Finance. (LL just wants to point out that nearly a third of District residents are on publicly subsidized health care, making HCF a pretty important agency.)
Much of this has already been made public, but here are some more fun facts:
- The report quotes Wayne Turnage, the head of HCF and Brown's former boss, saying that Brown didn't know what the spreadsheet program Excel was. The report includes work produced by Brown that was filled with spelling and grammatical errors. For example, here's a line from Brown's report on United Medical Center: "It would mislead if UMC financial position was excluded from the Districts financial statements."
- When Brown was fired and escorted out of his office by police, LL reported the news shortly thereafter, which apparently surprised some members of the Gray administration. Says Gray's former chief of staff Gerri Mason Hall: "“[i]t is incredulous to me that Loose Lips had the story [on its Web site] so quickly." Holla!
- After news broke of Brown's ugly dismissal, Turnage was at the Wilson Building for a budget meeting with Mayor Vince Gray. The mayor's first words were, according to Turnage: "What the fuck happened?" (Wait, did LL just hear the unofficial slogan of the Gray administration's first year in office?)
Turnage went on to say that Gray "claimed not to have known Brown was employed at HCF until that day," the report says. Close watchers of this soap opera will know that this statement contradicts Hall's story, which was that the mayor had seen Brown "sitting front and center" when Gray had come to address HCF staff about a month before Brown was fired. Hall said that on the car ride back from his talk with HCF staff, Gray noted he was surprised to see Brown working at the department.
Said Hall at her council hearing: "I said, 'Is there a problem?' And he said, 'No, I just was surprised to see him.'"
(Update: see this post on that last point.)
The report may pose some problems for federal prosecutors, though; their star witness in any potential case against members of the Gray administration—which would be Brown—doesn't exactly come off looking unimpeachably credible.
Official U.S. House photo of Darrell Issa via Wikimedia Commons