Loose Lips

Much of “Missing” Park Southern Money Has Been Spent, Former Manager Claims

A day after Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser asked for an inspector general investigation of a housing complex scandal that features two of her prominent mayoral backers, the lawyer for one of those supporters says that nearly $300,000 worth of "missing" money his property management company purportedly owes the District's manager has already been spent.

The revelation from Phinis Jones, who worked as a fundraiser for Bowser's campaign, adds another twist to the saga around the deteriorating Ward 8 housing complex. Ward powerbroker Rowena Joyce Scott has been accused by the failed Vince Gray campaign of currying favor with both Bowser and the mayor during the primary, possibly in an attempt to maintain control over the complex that has since been seized by the city over an unpaid loan. Bowser's campaign said Monday that questions she asked about the takeover were an attempt to preserve the complex's affordable housing.

The whereabouts of nearly $300,000 worth of rent money collected by Jones' company, which had a role in operating property until the District takeover, has figured into Bowser rival David Catania's demands for Bowser's D.C. Council committee to investigate the situation. In a press release Monday, Catania's campaign included the location of the money as one of three questions Bowser should answer, and pointedly noted that the money "disappeared" right before the mayoral primary in April.

But according to Jones' attorney, Donald Temple, most of the money has already been spent. Yes, legally.

“There is no missing $300,000," says Temple. "That’s purely political mythology, and it's designed to advance another political agenda."

In financial statements provided to LL and submitted to the Department of Housing and Community Development, Jones claims that all but a little more than $9,000 of the money has been spent on operating the complex. The expenses include $125,871.13 for utilities, $10,250.00 for legal fees, and $57,296.30 for payroll. Other money, according to Temple, is being held in escrow over a dispute related to the end of Jones' property management contract.

Temple denies that Jones, who's also trying to buy the complex, did anything wrong with the money.

“For somebody to put that out there is to advance a political general," Temple says. "And in part, that’s ant-Muriel. It’s clearly anti-Muriel."

DHCD boss Michael Kelly said this morning that he's reviewing the financial statements submitted by Jones. As with the inspector general, Gray said today that his administration has also asked the Office of the Attorney General to investigate.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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