Aides Puzzled by $100,000 Payout to Gray’s Part-Time Campaign Treasurer
Considering how much attention the finances of Mayor Vince Gray's 2010 campaign have been getting (both from the media and, apparently, federal investigators), it's remarkable how little we've heard about the bid's presumed head bean counter, treasurer Betty Brown.
What's also remarkable? Records show she was paid more than $100,000 to work on the campaign, which looks like more than anyone else except top aide Adam Rubinson made. And what, exactly, she did to earn that big payday isn't entirely clear to other veterans of the effort.
LL has been unable to reach Brown for comment and has had a hard time finding anyone involved in D.C. politics—outside of Gray's campaign—who has heard of her. Asked today how he knows Brown, Gray said simply that she's "a neighbor."
Brown kept a low profile on the Gray campaign as well, according to several former aides LL spoke with.
"She seemed to have a fairly passive role," says one, who like the others LL talked to spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing federal investigation.
Aides say Thomas Gore, a longtime friend of the mayor's, did most of the treasurer-type work.
"Day to day, Thomas, was the guy to go to," says one former aide. A fundraiser for Gray says Brown was almost never at any meetings of the campaign's finance committee. Other aides says Brown, who used to work at Howard University's dental school*, would come to campaign offices at night on a semi-regular basis.
But that hands off approach didn't stop Brown from getting paid. Her cut, campaign records show, came to $106,178. That includes a $50,000 payment on the day of the primary, one of the biggest single payments made by the campaign. (That is, if you don't count whatever went on with the alleged "shadow campaign.") Brown's generous take has former aides scratching their heads, saying her compensation far outstripped her output. Of the half dozen former campaign aides LL spoke with, each and every one of them expressed surprise at how much Brown made. Gore, campaign records show, made $40,000.
Also puzzling is how the payments to Brown were classified. The bulk of the payments, including the $50,000 primary day payout, classify the purpose of the payment as "polling/mailing list." That's a headscratcher, because aides say Brown did neither polling or mailing list work, and campaign records show that the Gray campaign paid the organizations that did polling and provided mailing lists directly.
Just another mystery hiding in plain sight in the campaign finance filings!
*Correction. The original article said Brown was currently employed at Howard University. This information was based on Howard's website, which as of the date of this correction, May 24, 2012, lists Brown as a "coordinator/fiscal analyst" at the school. But a spokesman for the university says Brown no longer works at Howard and her last day of employment was August 23, 2011.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery