Loose Lips

Any Merit to Bonds Ex-Staffer’s Complaint?

A few weeks ago, LL reported that a fired staffer for Councilmember Anita Bonds had filed a complaint with the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability over issues involving requests for her to work on Bonds' campaign. There's been no public movement from the ethics board since then, and Bonds' office says the complaints from the staffer, Cierra Robinson, are baseless.

LL filed a Freedom of Information Act request for copies of Bonds' D.C. Ccouncil emails to see if was any there there. Told of the pending FOIA request last week, Robinson directed LL to pay particular attention to staff meeting agendas written by Bonds' chief of staff, Charles Wilson.

LL got his FOIA back today, and guess what the D.C. Council's attorney, Dave Zvenyach, says is exempt from disclosure? The staff meeting agendas.

[Sad trombone]

But emails LL got do show Wilson asking a subordinate Council staffer to do campaign work, which is hardly a capital crime but is worth reporting given Robinson's complaint.

When Bonds' legislative director, Brittney Madison, emails Wilson to say that she's planning to go to a Ward 7 ANC event in Bonds' place, Wilson emails: "Would you mind taking a petition with you to get more nominating signatures?" The email exchange took place on Jan. 15, about a week before candidates had to submit 3,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot in April's special election.

The emails were written on Council email accounts. According to the ethics board's ethics manual, city rules prohibit government resources from being used to support or oppose political campaigns. Bonds' spokesman, David Meadows, says, "We do not feel any violation took place" and adds that no Council staffer, including Robinson, was ever pressured to do campaign-related work.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • RealDC

    LOL.

    More "Tom and Jerry" bullshit from another council member's office. At this point, all they need is some theme music synced to their antics.

    DC Council is a bad JOKE with a perpetual punchline. The residents of this city feel like the Indian from the pollution commercial back in the day as folks drive by and throw trash out the window, all the Indian can do is stand there with a tear in his eye. At this point we all have tears in our eyes, some from laughter......

    Ms. Robinson, I do not know you but I believe every word you say and everything in your complaint. Ms. Bonds has a history of "questionable" management with the DSC, so having shenanigans in her council office is NOT surprising.

    SMH.... with a tear.

  • tony

    @RealDC, I just wonder if it does "us" any good to tear down every black politician who is accused of some questionable conduct.

    Brother, we would be wise to step back and let things play out before reacting to quickly.

  • Washington Peach

    Yawn....Alan it must be a slow news day. You can tell you are really reaching here by trying to make a story that isn't there.

  • NE John

    who is this unelected boob

  • NW Watcher

    This is a classic example of reckless journalism by trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. You can tell this email conversation is nothing more than random conversation between two people. There is no story here.

  • RealDC

    @tony-I hear you and I can appreciate what you are saying in an ideal world. But life in DC is far from that world. It is not a matter of "tearing down every black politician" but raising the bar and "our" level of expectations on the ones that get elected or appointed to represent us. Yes, the black politicians need to be beyond reproach. Do mistakes happen, sure they do. Are elected officials perfect people, of course they are not. But some mistakes and "questionable conduct" is avoidable.

    In this situation, having a staffer work on your campaign and then firing her when she refuses or pushes back on the campaign work is avoidable. Ms. Bonds is a veteran of the DC government and DC's political arena. This is not her "first rodeo", she knows staffers cannot work on campaigns during government hours and Ms. Bonds cannot make her work on her campaign after hours. Now do other elected officials asked their staffers to work on their campaigns, YES they do!! But when you are appointed by the DSC, where you are/were the president, to be the interim at-large council member and you are not even in the position for 60 days and one of your employees files an ethics complaint against you....... I mean, really, what are we waiting to see? Come on, now I am wrong for not giving Ms. Bonds a pass on this? With the history of DSC under her leadership? Tony, you would have been better using Barry's due process argument. Due process for Bonds, I can at least understand that.

    Sad but we have seen this movie before and if you have'nt, ask the members of the DSC.

    The black community in this city is suffering at an alarming rate and the black politicians are in the Wilson building "playing" government. Unemployment in DC for blacks is 17%, some areas is 30%. And your response to me was: "Brother, we would be wise to step back and let things play out before reacting to quickly." DCPS high school graduation rate is 53%. And your response to me was: "Brother, we would be wise to step back and let things play out before reacting to quickly." There are 600 homeless families with children warehoused somewhere in town. Your line; "Brother, we would be wise to step back and let things play out before reacting to quickly". The DC homeless shelter requested $100k for food to feed more people or offer more meals and DC government said "NO". But our pols spent $342k on a heated tent with some custom message for the Inauguration Parade??....... Do you understand why I have no patience with non-sense, especially from black politicians when it is the black community that is suffering the most??

    And make no mistake, the question is not about "us tearing them down" but about them "letting us down"!! Raise the bar on our elected black politicians, Tony!

  • DC Guy

    +1 to RealDC

    I would add that Charles Wilson, who has his eyes on the Ward 6 seat, should just sit back down now. We don't need more of this.

  • tony

    I believe that my comment to you was that we must be a little more careful when criticizing and condemning black politicians based on some allegation reported by the press. Yes, as you so aptly pointed out, I have seen this movie before. It’s a movie that always has black characters and a sad and pathetic ending.

    However, Councilmember Anita Bonds case is a little different. Your criticism of this black woman comes at a time when she’s running for public office to retain a seat she was selected to by her peers. She now seeks to be elected by the general public to that office within 60 days. She’s in a tough race against well financed and well respected opponents many whom are white. She is trying to retain a seat that almost will certainly go to a white candidate if she loses. It’s within this political context, that I find your criticism of her ill- advised.

    Again, in a general sense, I agree that black leadership needs to held in- check by the black community and that accountability is in order. I have preached this same thing for so long.

    That being said, political life in DC goes on.

    Your comment that “The black community in this city is suffering at an alarming rate and ... black politicians.... "Playing" government,” really sums up your attitude towards black leadership.

    When you cited how certain black communities remains to be in dire straits, I understand. When you cited stats concerning the staggering unemployment rate in certain parts of D.C., I understand. When you cited the awful graduation rate of D.C. public schools students, I understand. When you referenced the 600 families living in unbearable conditions at D.C. General Hospital, I understand. When you talked about the lack of moral compassion for the less fortunate, I understand.

    I understand your frustration. I understand your dissatisfaction. Your dissatisfaction with city government and the performance of black leadership is well placed. That dissatisfaction is genuine and legitimate. And that dissatisfaction is share by many throughout this city. Including me!

    However, that dissatisfaction must be used as motivation to build up black leadership and to produce even greater black leaders. We shall never allow others to stoke our legitimate dissatisfaction with our black leaders for their own political benefit. And too often than not, that is exactly what happens. That’s when our dissatisfaction becomes something worst.

  • DC Young Dem

    @RealDC

    Actually when Bonds took over the DSC she erased a 30K deficit and then produced 2 major dinners, 2 delegate selection caucuses, 2 state conventions and 2 national conventions. She even raised the $ for buses for young dems to GOTV for Obama 2012 in VA (I went) while continuing to increase participation of asians, gays, and latinos.

  • johnnie

    the sad part is the emails that were not released are from the general council for the council scolding anita and charles about doing campaign work since day 1 on council time & dime....she has cheated the residents of dc from day one...campaigning from the city council office and now miss squeaky clean muriel bowser is her number one backer...yeah right

  • DC Guy

    @tony
    Define "peers".

    That alone should be a discredit to Bonds.

  • RealDC

    @Tony- This is more than an "allegation reported by the press". Ms. Robinson filed a grievance with the Board of Ethics on her dismissal from Council Bonds' office. The press just reported it because that is what the press does.

    At a minimum, this is bad news for an appointed council member who is in a competitive campaign. But Bonds did it to herself!! If Ms. Robinson was terminated for legitimate reasons than so be it. But if any of Ms. Robinson's claims are true, any, then I cannot feel sorry for Council Member Bonds. Bonds knows better!

    My "Tom and Jerry" analogy is on point, in this entertaining cartoon, the cat and mouse tears up the house trying to "get" each other but neither one wins but the house is destroyed and we all laugh....... get it??

    Anita Bonds will not finish in the top 3 in this election. She has no base and a questionable campaign team. Like the previous DSC appointments, Biddle and Dixon, she will lose and lose badly. The DSC, were she is the president, is a dysfunctional out of touch organization. While she got them to appoint her, their are significant DSC members who do NOT support her. So where is her base?

    The black voters in DC are more sophisticated than the candidates want to believe. Their positions on issues vary as well. Gone is the day, that all blacks vote a certain way because they are black. In short, black politicians need to stop taking the black vote for granted and go out and earn it!!

  • ward411

    Well Anita Bonds only has herself to blame for this. She was warned plenty of times about campaign work being done in her council office and everyone knew this, saw this and for FOIA to allow David to not have to respond is just another cover up at The DC City Council. But lucky for us we won't have to deal with Anita Bonds passed April's election because her cheating behind will not win!!

  • ward411

    The way I see it is this has nothing to do with a black or white vote or voter....it has to do with a council member who was cheating and breaking the law from the start so no need to allow her to continue.

  • tony

    @RealDC, I really mean it when I say I understand your dissatisfaction with black leadership.

    What I don't understand is your response. This give-up and quit mentality. Brothers from the hood are stronger than that! Even the ones from uptown,lol

    Anita Bonds will beat Ms. Silverman in a very close race!

  • Somedude

    So Tony. If I follow you here, you are saying it's better to elect a black candidate who's getting over and falling short, instead of a white candidate with a long track record at DCFPI advocating for programs and expenditures which actually help all of the people RealDC mentioned. And you agreed with.

    Sheesh. You wanna understand why DC politics is hosed, just read this comment thread.

  • DC Resident

    By all means we whould elect a former City Paper employee to the DC City Council. After all, the former employee knows all the players and often wrote her articles from her own slant or from those who provided her with info to support their own agenda. Just what we need, another unproven hack on the city council.

  • Lukas

    I am sour on Silverman for a number of reasons, not the least of which is having John Settles removed from the ballot for hypocritical reasons related to her failed Initiative 70 campaign.

  • DC Chick

    DCGuy, Charles Wilson lives in Ward 8, so I don't think he can do anything with the Ward 6 seat. But he's eyeing something higher up? It's all over his face.

  • tony

    @Somedude

    Black political representation is critical. It was only through and by black political representation that Blacks in this City and Country progressed to the degree that we have.

    Specifically, the black middle which is the backbone of the black community came into existence during the 1960's when blacks obtained political power and were elected MAYORS of major cities.

    In fact, every political, economic, educational, and social gains made by the black masses were as a result of black political representation. In short, black political presentation has been the key to black survival and success in this country.

    On the other hand, blacks in general, suffered from the worst form of discrimination in every single aspect of America society under white governance.

    Clearly, prior to blacks gaining political power, we were denied the most basic economic, educational, political and social opportunities.

    The notion that a white candidate will represent black folks better or equally has never happened. It certainly did not happen prior to blacks gaining political power. And even today, nearly every single law which opened up opportunities for blacks within America’s mainstream are being challenged.

    In the instant case, I believe that Anita Bonds has the best chance of winning amongst the black candidates. And she has done nothing while in office or out of office which suggest that she will be nothing less than a good representative.

    More importantly, given her roots in politics, she is the one person who’s more likely to stand up for blacks folks when the time comes. AND TO THIS BLACK MAN THAT MATTERS!

  • drez

    Great back and forth btwn tony and realdc.
    IMO realdc is on the right side of history here.

  • OG in DC

    Bullshit. There are liars and cheaters on the council like pay-for-play Jim Graham whose slimy dirty hands are there for all to see and yet has barely gotten any criticism for the years and years that he's ripped off my ward. There are council members whose staff campaign for them. That's not "yet another crook." That's not "yet another person stealing from us." That's bullshit. The staffer didn't do her job well, and she got fired-- do you really think that she got fired because she didn't agree to take a petition to an ANC meeting? I got a bridge to Anacostia to sell you if you believe that. The former staffer is trying to make hay out of being asked to do what every damn person who has ever held office has asked of their damn staff. Give me a break. Get off your hyperbolic high horses and make the real issues a point for hue and cry. Let Anita Bonds, who has absolutely no blemish on her record after working for four mayors, turning around a broke and broken Party and serving tirelessly to all of our benefit--run a campaign. If she gets re-elected, she deserves it because she did it fair and square. People are so quick to jump when it's certain people... but amazingly quiet about other, glaring ridiculousness.

  • RealDC

    @DCyoungdem- Not sure where you are getting your info but you should check the source. Scott Bolden was Bonds' predecessor as the chair of the DSC and he left it in fine shape.
    Now I do know under Bonds the DSC was fined $30K or so by the OCF for "commingling funds" and other "Tom & Jerry" bullshit back in 2008/2009. Fact check it. VO actually came to their rescue and save the DSC and Bonds backside. So it was a shocker that Bonds lead the DSC to choose Biddle over Orange for the last appointment to the council. And if you got time on your hands, check out her record in the Barry administration??

    So go do your homework before jumping into adult conversations.

    @tony-I am glad you understand my dissatisfaction because it is real and it does not have to be, but we have to not settle for bullshit leadership, black or any color!!
    I will never quit or give up. DC will have good black politicians! We have to get them to run, I have had enough with the self-aggrandizing "leaders". You know the ones that tell us "that its their destiny" or that "Jesus wants them to lead DC ". We have to convince the reluctant ones to do it!!

    Tony, please go help Bonds campaign out. She could use someone with your mindset and views on her team. (Seriously). Thats REAL!

    Silverman is not the threat you think she is. First, you have to be LIKED and she falls short on that, even with white folks. The nasty attitude and smart-azz mouth does not win you many votes. Second, yes she understands most issues but she offers NO solutions. She has been front row spectator for DC's political scene for about 12 years. Covering it with CP and the Post. OK. Good view of the "action". I have had Skins tix for about the same time, it does not mean I can go "play" for the Skins. Different set of skills. So, she is not the formidable opponent you make her out to be. When she was writing for the Post's Metro section during Fenty's 2006 run with no editor in place, her stories were incredibly bias and downright cheerleading Fenty's campaign. Cropp got no press coverage like Fenty got from her. Oh, right, her boyfriend worked for Fenty's campaign. Don't be fooled, she is not that good. Plus she got Settles thrown off the ballot, bullshit, but Settles should have been "tighter" on his signatures. Very hypocritical of her to do that. But thats her. She is not electable. Too abrasive.

    This race is about redemption of Michael Brown or relativity of Patrick Mara. Can Brown mend broken fences or will Mara finally break through. Either way, whichever candidate loses is probably done in the DC political scene. The race has a decent subplot, Dem v Rep, black v white, native v transplant, etc. Will Bonds hurt Brown or will Sliverman, Frumin hurt Mara?? Not a great race but i'll watch it.

    For Real!

  • ward411

    and who said anything about taking a petition to an anc meeting that was another law broken by charles wilson on council time and he didn't ask cierra he asked another staffer. the botton line is anita bonds and many on her staff did campaign business on your tax dolaar and city council time. so in a nutshell she is being paid her portion of 125k to work for the residents, but all she has done is campaign to get this seat and go to her other full time job....only in dc

  • tony

    @RealDC, Thanks for the kind words, I really needed it. lol!

    @ward411, Do you know how to play the violin? Because, you certainly can use one.

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