Loose Lips

Vince Gray’s Inauguration Tab: $715,000

That must have been one heck of a party. It's taken a while—like an entire year—but LL finally has the exact tally for how much Mayor Vince Gray spent on his inaugural ball. The cost for the party: $714,575. And that's even with cash bars.

You may recall that Gray promised transparency and disclosure when it came to divulging the donors and expenses of his transition and inauguration fund. You may also recall that Gray has had a hard time living up to that promise. In January, Gray released a list detailing some of the inauguration/transition fund donors. In March, the Post badgered the fund's director Reuben Charles (remember that guy?) for details on how the money was spent. Charles provided only a partial list, which included the nugget that Team Gray paid $126,931 to put temporary carpet down at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the ball.

Sometime last spring, Gray ordered an audit of his transition/inauguration fund and promised to release the results once they were complete. Today, enfin, the Gray administration allowed LL to take a look at said audit, which was done by Benjamin and Associates, a Maryland-(gasp!)-based accounting firm. The audit doesn't provide much in the way of details. It shows that the inauguration/transition fund raised $988,805 and spent $960,089 as of March 31. There's no list of donors (though the Gray administration says that info should be coming by the middle of next month) and there's no real accounting for how the money was spent. Instead, there's a broad list of 20 expenditure categories, including "Inaugural Expenses: $714,575." Talk about useless, Charles provided more info to the Post back in March:

Charles said the team paid Centerplate, a caterer, $271,900 for the event, which drew several thousand guests. In addition to the $50,000 rental fee for the space, the transition team paid $126,931 to Hargrove, a special events contractor, which apparently installed temporary carpeting.

But it is unclear how the transition team spent other funds related to the inaugural celebration.

It made a $50,000 payment to Black Entertainment Television, which Charles said helped organize performances by Chuck Brown, Raheem DeVaughn, the Style Band and the Yvonne Johnson Trio.

Charles also listed $309,540 for “concert support services” but did not specify which company or companies received the funds.

Digging through the archives, LL found that former Mayor Adrian Fenty spent $500,000 on his inaugural ball and was also less than forthcoming about who funded the shindig. Former Mayor Anthony Williams' inaugural celebrations after he was re-elected in 2002 appear to have only cost $216,005.

Other expenses from the practically useless audit:

  • Background checks: $33,595
  • Bank fees: $83
  • Consulting communications: $38,760
  • Fundraising: $1,806
  • Website development: $6,368

Photo by Matt Dunn

  • trulee pist

    Wait...$83 in bank fees?!?1? Scandale! Why didn't they make their bank payments on time?

  • Anothernative

    Just what I thought, You can't handle honest critisism.

  • Blevins

    Comedy by the One City Crew once again. I'm not sure who Benjamin and Associates are (we use more,ahem, thorough firms in my line of work)but I hope that Vince didn't pay much for this useless report. Funny that the $34k in background checks doesn't seem to buy much in practice...

    Also amusing that Vince nearly managed to spend more than Fenty and Tony combined.

    So much for transparency.

  • B-DC

    So with all the incompetent fuckers in DC you couldn't waste money employing an accounting firm based in the city for this useless report and don't even get me started on background checks, WTF!?!?!?

  • Paul in VA

    $127K for carpet?!?

  • peter rosenstein

    What a colossal waste of money, especially the money spent on the party. It is my understanding that under the new ethics bill passed this couldn't and shouldn't happen again. Someone commented on the $127,000 on carpeting. Actually that seems to be a legitimate figure to carpet the convention center exhibit hall. I remember that when the Fenty inauguration occured one of the biggest complaints was that there was no carpeting rather cold cement floor. So add that to the $500,000 he spent on his innaugural ball and the amounts are close. I went to the Fenty one and stayed about 30 minutes and left and didn't bother to go to the Gray one at all. I have run big events at convention centers across the country and they are always exhorbitantly expensive.

    I understand celebrating but still it seems like a waste of money all around. However if anyone has gone to a Presidential innauguration ball they are just as expensive to put on but they often charge for the tickets to make money. Maybe future Mayor's could do that if they want to fund a ball.

    I would recommend that the next Mayor, or for Mayor Gray's second innaugural, a great open house at the Wilson building - hire a caterer for some food and beverage- and have student performers scattered around the building showing off their talents, would make a lot more sense.

    I do realize people like to celebrate their success at winning a campaign but there must be a better way then renting the convention center and spending all that money.

  • Drez

    I don't know, Peter. $127k to rent carpeting? And then what? It ends up in a landfill somewhere?

  • Brahmin

    LL,

    Sometimes I think you are part of a global conspiracy to have us spend time reading crap?

    This party, a standard for anyone if they ran for Dog catcher to president is your Watergate but we live in a city that looses tax dollars in sofa cushions as it tickets and taxes you for smiling and this is what you care about?

    Ripping journalism.

  • Truth hurts

    Speaking of Reuben, he'd be Gray's COS now had CP and Wapo not exposed his background. One City! Believe it.

  • noodlez

    @Drez-YOU CONTINUED DEVOTION TO FLENTY IS REALLY AFFECTING YOUR PSYCHE AND THE COMMENTS YOU'VE BEEN MAKING LATELY.

    DO YOU REALLY THINK THEY WONT REUSE A CARPET THAT WAS ONLY USED FOR A FEW HOURS AND MORE THAN LIKELY ONLY HAVE SOME MINOR FOOD AND DRINK STAINS? THE SAID CARPET WAS PROBABLY USED BEFORE.

    COME ON SLIM WAKE THE FUCK UP! HE AINT COMIN BACK!

  • Ward One Resident

    Maryland-based accounting firm.
    Hargrove is a Maryland-based company
    Centerplate is a Connecticut-based company. They have the contract with the Convention Center, but it would be interesting to see if you can bring in outside caterers. This of course begs a bigger question, why does a Connecticut-based company have the contract with the Convention Center? Could no DC-based catering company fulfill those needs (Centerplate seems to do a lot of stadium/convention center catering ala Aramark).

    So much for One City when it comes to events.

  • Crook

    Peter Rosenstein...what a joke. Guy hops off Fenty's coat tail endorses Gray....and is now struggling to stay relevant. Another old school DC politico has been.

  • http://corcorancaterers.com/ catering companies MD

    Well what can I say? Hmmm. Overpriced Event!

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