Loose Lips

Vince Gray Loses Trash-Talking Spokesman

Vince Gray cuts a ribbon in July 2013, while Pedro Ribeiro, far right, holds it.

Vince Gray's biggest fan is headed to the exit. Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro, who has colorfully made the mayor's enemies his own since joining the administration in 2011, is leaving to take a job in the Department of Homeland Security.

The news, first tweeted by WUSA9's Bruce Johnson, comes after multiple Gray cabinet officials have ditched the lame-duck administration. Gray chief of staff Chris Murphy announced the change in an email to administration officials, adding that Ribeiro will be replaced by Doxie McCoy.

Ribeiro joined Gray's struggling freshman administration in Nov. 2011 after former spokeswoman Linda Wharton Boyd got the boot after the administration earned bad press over nepotism and the hiring of Gray campaign pal Sulaimon Brown.

"Like him or not, Pedro helped save the Gray administration," says one senior Gray administration official, who wasn't authorized to speak on the record.

In his email about Ribeiro, Murphy wrote that he "managed to disagree with the press when he had to without being disagreeable."

Like fellow outspoken Gray defender Chuck Thies, who managed Gray's unsuccessful re-election effort, Ribeiro's job seemed premised on the belief that offense is the best defense.

When Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells claimed he had been "duped" into supporting a city settlement with Gray shadow campaign financier Jeff Thompson, Ribeiro cracked that Wells was not so much a dupe as he was a dope. Ribeiro tangled with Kwame Brown and David Catania on the D.C. Council, and blew up at LL colleague Aaron Wiener during a press conference.

Ribeiro's occasional punchiness didn't stop some of those same reporters from wishing Ribeiro well today.

Ribeiro's mouth could be a hassle for the administration, too. When Ribeiro told the Washington Business Journal that the District's film office may have "dropped the ball" for a shoot for Netflix's House of Cards, staff at the agency fumed privately that Ribeiro was hanging them out to dry. After Ribeiro said the District's taxi system was nearly "third-world," cabbies demanded an apology from the administration.

Update, 4 p.m.: Ahead of his exit next month, Ribeiro tells LL that occasional belligerence comes with the territory of being a mayoral spokesman in a large city.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job to some extent if I wasn’t combatative," Ribeiro says.

But, Ribeiro insists, he's not all tough. Ribeiro says he's sometimes had to call reporters to apologize.

"There are instances where I have been a dick, and I know it," Ribeiro says.

Murphy's email:

 Dear Cabinet Members –

I am writing to share that EOM Communications Director Pedro Ribeiro will be leaving the Gray Administration effective August 8th. The Mayor and I are grateful to Pedro for his nearly three years of service to the Gray Administration and to the District. Pedro has been a trusted and valued advisor and counselor to the Mayor and his entire senior team as well as an effective spokesperson who managed to disagree with the press when he had to without being disagreeable. We are sorry to see him go.

Pedro will be joining the Obama Administration where he will be taking on a senior role at the Department of Homeland Security.

Please join me in thanking Pedro for his great work and in wishing him well.

In his absence, Doxie McCoy will be promoted to Communications Director. Doxie is a steady and trusted professional whom I am confident will ensure our Communications operation doesn’t miss a beat.

Thanks all,

Photo by Aaron Wiener

  • DCTaxPayerDC

    Adios Pedro! Maybe once you learn about Homeland Security you will realize just how badly your fire chief hero decimated a needed public safety agency. I find it hard to think you are qualified for Homeland Security when you find it normal to send fire trucks into crime zones for "patrol". Save a seat for Quander while you are at DHS, unless he will be employed by Uncle Earl.

  • DCDude

    Yet another lazy member of local 36. You fat lazy slaps are something else. You all have sucked on the DC teat long enough and should cleaned out. How many fat, lazy firefighters does it take to respond to a medical emergency these days? 8, 12, 16? STFU.

  • NE John

    LOL, a bunch of circus freaks

  • Juan

    I will miss this man, he was a great defender of our good Mayor.

    He'll be a great addition to the Obama administration.

  • Roscoe’s Wetsuit

    Later Pedro - lol'z at you waiting for the ship to sink before you jumped off though. And further lol'z at his "save" of the Gray Administration! HA! He saved a one term mayor who will leave office with a MASSIVE housing crisis at DC General and can't even get trash cans picked up on time? Nice work.

    Guess nobody in the private sector would take a chance on this clown. Can't blame 'em.

  • PWebbIV

    The Gray Administration has been a good one, with talented hardworking people. There were some hiccups in the first few months, but overall I think Gray has served the District well.

    Ribiero was a good press secretary.

  • Miss Lu Lu Hogg

    Who's running or in charge of the DC Government because Gray damn show isn't? Police Cathy L. Lanier need to leave. She's earning close to or $280,000 yearly and she's good for playing politics. It's my understanding there was a robbery turned homicide in 16th Street Heights on the 4th of July and the residents in that neighborhood wanted to meet with Police Chief Lanier to discuss robberies this year and the brutal robbery of Mr. & Mrs. Oh. However, Miss Muriel Bowser hijacked the meeting and turned it into a PSA 403 meeting for all to attend to discuss crime. Police Chief Lanier bowed down to Bowser by ignoring the residents in 16th Street Heights. I've lost respect for Police Chief Lanier. Bowser's parents was robbed and I bet MPD gave that robbery special attention.