Loose Lips

Morning Clicks

Mendo and Michael Brown win, but not without some drama [Post]

So what, exactly, has been the lowest point in the District's political history? [WBJ]

No clear explanation behind VO's bizarre behavior yesterday [Post]

Marion Barry, ethicist [Examiner]

"White public officials have a doctorate on doing evil while blacks just have GEDs" [Informer]

Mendo: rebuilding trust takes time [Fox5]

Yvette Alexander on ongoing investigations"we don't know what's going to happen." [Fox5]

Mendo not moving up to the 5th floor [Times]

Kenyan McDuffie meets the monied interests [Times]

Tax breaks should come with some guarantees, yo [DCFPI]

Decent fundraising for at-large candidate David Grosso and school board candidate Jack Jacobson [Post]

Post likes it raw [Post]

  • Really?

    D.C.’s Double Standard
    Posted on June 13, 2012 thefightback.org
    Former Council Chairman Kwame Brown (l) and Mayor Vincent Gray (r)

    When it comes to pursuing potential corruption, D.C. has a double standard. Elected officials advocating for the city’s African Americans are scrutinized to within an inch of their lives, while those looking out for the downtown business community largely get a pass.

    Two black legislators, former Councilmember Harry Thomas and former Council Chairman Kwame Brown, have recently pleaded guilty to felonies. But any investigation into potential D.C. government corruption should begin with Councilmember Jack Evans.

    As chairman of the powerful Finance and Revenue Committee, Evans helped shepherd through a deal which provides $272 million in public subsidies to assist Marriott in building an 1,167 room hotel alongside the convention center. At the eleventh hour, Evans recused himself from voting on the matter after being questioned about a potential conflict of interest. Later, he reinserted himself in the deal when it became ensnarled in legal complications.

    When asked why he recused himself, Evans said it was out an “abundance of caution.” However, in a 2009 email Evans said, “I recused myself from the recent consideration of the financing legislation for the convention center hotel as my law firm, Patton Boggs, represents ING who are the equity partners in the private financing part of the hotel.” Indeed, at the time of the deal, ING, the real estate investment firm, was represented by Patton Boggs, the powerhouse lobby firm which pays Evans $190,000 a year (on top of his $125,000 council salary).

    Councilmembers are required by law to file an explanation for their recusals, but in a series of articles, former Washington Post reporter John Hanrahan noted that Evans hadn’t filed anything. TheFightBack‘s inquiries into whether Evans has subsequently filed an explanation went unanswered. This would seem to be right up the alley of U.S. Attorney Ron Machen, who’s pledged to continue a “vigorous prosecution of elected leaders who violate the public trust and break the law.”

    But Machen seems more interested in going after the Post‘s targets, like Brown, even when there’s no misuse of public office. David Simon, the creator of The Wire and former Baltimore Sun reporter, called Brown’s prosecution “an embarrassment for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.” Simon told the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU, “As a longtime police reporter, whenever I see the bank fraud charge leading the way for a federal investigation, what I know almost to a certainty is that… [the prosecutors] came up empty everywhere else.”

    With Thomas and Brown down, Mayor Vincent Gray appears to be next on Machen’s list. Gray entered politics late in life, having spent his career in the public and nonprofit sector, where he worked with homeless youth and adults with disabilities. Gray is a serious public servant who’s known for his work ethic, and under his chairmanship the Council consistently earned high approval ratings.

    But ever since Gray’s upset victory in the 2010 Democratic mayoral primary over the business community’s favorite son, Adrian Fenty, he’s been a marked man; particularly by the Washington Post, which backed Mayor Fenty to the hilt and hasn’t gotten over the loss.

    While District voters continue to stubbornly refuse to ratify the Post‘s anointed leaders, Machen has shown that he’s willing to play ball and he’s been picking off the paper’s nemeses one at a time. This has emboldened the Post and other news outlets, which have recently taken their campaign against Gray to new and impressive heights.

    The focal point of the attack has been Gray’s 2010 campaign, and more specifically Sulaimon Brown, a minor candidate in the mayoral contest who Gray’s campaign paid to stay in the race to continue attacking Fenty. Brown was paid via money orders and cash, which amounts to a violation of campaign law, not the end of the world as reporters are making it seem.

    “There was no way to know it at the time, but we were eyewitnesses to a fraud, bought and paid for by [Gray's] 2010 mayoral campaign,” wrote Post columnist Colbert King. “Gray is either a fool or a liar – and I’m inclined toward the latter,” wrote Post columnist Robert McCartney, whose follow up column is entitled, ”Explain or resign, Mayor Gray.” Not to be outdone, City Paper‘s Loose Lips said the mayor is “either a crook or an incompetent leader, and it’s hard to tell which is worse.”

    A focal point of the Post‘s effort is to tie Gray in with other Council misdeeds. “How far does the rot go?” asked a Post editorial in the wake of Chairman Brown’s resignation. In a front page story in last Sunday’s Post entitled “D.C. grapples with ‘culture of corruption,’” the Post wrote that a trio, consisting of Gray, Brown and Thomas, has “plunged the District into a new round of crisis, triggering reminders of the worst aspects of the Barry era and fears that the city’s political culture is regressing.” “What we have here is a centipede of corruption. There are more shoes to drop,” NBC 4 reporter Tom Sherwood wrote in an op-Ed in Sunday’s Post. “Let’s be clear, we’re talking about the possibility of Gray being charged and forced from office,” said the former Post reporter, who’s been a leading critic of Brown and Gray.

    In D.C., particularly among African Americans, there’s growing anger over the double standard regarding who gets targeted for media scrutiny, and who gets targeted for prosecution. Remarkably, the Post has characterized the many who are upset by this as insignificant. “As far as I can tell, nobody of significance is complaining publicly today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has treated Brown and Thomas unfairly,” wrote McCartney. Yet even he noted that the focus has been on “the predominantly African American eastern wards where Machen’s legal bulldozer threatens to raze the existing power structure.”

    Both the media and Machen’s legal bulldozer should have one standard for dealing with potential corruption, and that standard should be applied equally to all public officials.

    Related Stories:
    Why Won’t the Post Say Jack About Evans? Nov. 3, 2011

  • JayDC23

    So they put the full court press on VO again huh. No matter what you do you can never put this man down. That's what I like about him. They tried to keep him out of the council with Brown, next with Biddle, but they cannot keep a strong black man down. He is the only respectable black man left on the council, and if he runs in November, Mendelson will LOSE HIS SEAT!

    All of the crimes Brown & HTJ were guilty of were during 2006-2010, when Orange was not in office. Fenty got elected then gave the crooks the green light, thats why they want to protect anyone on the council from 06-10 and keep Orange out of the mix.

    Bring on new politicians so you can control them, and as long as no tension is being written about through the media, they can cover it up and make it seem like all is well on the council.

  • Jimbo

    Really. Really?

  • Wubbie

    It's not all about corruption. I'd take 12 Kwame Brown's over one Mendelson. Mendelson's consistent opposition to common-sense criminal justice reforms as the head of the laughably-neamed Committee on Public Safety has done more real harm to the quality of life, economy and safety of DC than anything any Brown or Berry could ever do. What's alleged against Brown an Thomas is PETTY compared to the hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people who have lost their lives and been victimized by criminals coddled by the DC system. All because of Mendelson's inept pandering to a certain demographic. Really Phil, if you'd ever step out of your fortress in Upper Caucasia you might notice that the constituency of repeat violent offenders (and their ever-true mommas) is actually rather small compared to those of us who debate having our kids sleep in the bathtub to avoid catching a stray one from one of your supporters. Phil IS the worst. When Marion Berry has a more sensible stance on gun crime and repeat offenders than you do, it's time to head back to the ashram with the other derelict hippies.

  • Sick of slick

    VO.....

    It's better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt.

  • Wait, What?

    LOL'z at Really. When all else fails the one citidiots, they come back to the one constant: "The Plan".

    Comedy gold. Kwame Pled. Harry Pled. They are both felons. End of story. Last I checked, being a former police reporter doesn't make David Simon a lawyer...

    Next Up, Mr. One City himself. Indictment Summer, 2012.

    Really, before posting your article, perhaps a little research is in order - is Jack's failure to file an explanation a felony or a misdemeanor? Is the fight back unaware of FOIA requests, which could provide an answer for the explaination?

    I'm no fan of Evans, but that article is straight up garbage journalism.

  • Really?

    Yes really Jimbo..really? really?

  • Coffee The Smell & Up Wake

    Not a huge VO fan but I do not blame him for being frustrated about this situation. He is a wild card, and gets on peoples last nerve but he pointed out Kwames Financial Woes during the middle of his At-Large campaign. I remember he held a terrible press conference with charts blowing over with the stands trying to explain his debt. He also was talking about the Bulletproof boat Kwame had during that time as well. Kwame's response was "me and my wife overspent, and will clear it up"....it never happened

    It kick-started the investigation season because right after that, Biddle pulled a QB Sneak into At-Large. Gray and Brown endorsed Biddle, then "Fully Loaded" happened and Gray had the sulaimon stuff. VO beat Biddle in the regular election then the investigations happened.

    For the council to embrace Brown, knowing he was a crook over Orange, select Biddle and basically walk into the Dems State Committee election and tell people to vote Biddle,then when justice is being served appoint Mendelson and the Other Brown to take over?

    That would make me mad too!

  • Ward 1 Voter

    You really think the white power structure felt threatened by HTJ or KB? Please. It would be one thing if either of them (or Gray) were crusading for the powerless and pushing for meaningful stuff that would really help people who need help and hurt the people who need hurting. But they weren't. They didn't do anything like that. They were go-along-to-get-along chumps whom the powers-that-be liked and worked well with and supported with contributions.

    HTJ and KB were crooked and dumb and arrogant, and that's why they got busted. The end.

  • Cat Like

    This is low times...the crimes and the investigation seems to have now once again divided the city.

    No one defends Thomas. I think a kick to the family jewel on the hour of every day would be too little. But I think someone quoted the judge as saying this is it... when Brown was arrested.

    No one is looking good.People are aware Evans, Catania and Graham have thier "ISSUES" with conflict of interest. But yet no FBI at their door. HMMMM

    Tommy Wells is guilty of clueness but that is not a crime.

    Yvette is a darn fool. And God likes fools and babies and she cries like both. She is so lucky her primary was not in Sept. Without Gray and K. Brown she would have lost.

    A new candidate would heal the city--Someone Get me a yard sign that says ABB

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