Loose Lips

Ex-Gray Aide Accused of Abusing Government Position at Restaurants, Now Works for Bowser

14th Street NW has everything: small plates, French bistros, even a prostitution-inspired dessert restaurant. Now it's also played host to an alleged fit of massive proportions by a then-Vince Gray staffer who now works for Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser.

On the surface, James Bulger looks to have a plum career ahead of him in District politics. He was well-connected: Until an abrupt exit earlier this summer, he worked for years in Gray's administration as a liaison to Ward 2. His father, Tom Bulger, serves on the Metro board with Bowser and is married to Diana K. Bulger, who co-chaired a "Women for Muriel" fundraiser.

After his exit from the Gray administration, Bowser's Ward 4 D.C. Council office hired him for constituent service work. According to emails obtained by LL, though, Bulger left the administration under a cloud of suspicion after an alleged belligerent, drunken appearance at sister 14th Street spots Pearl Dive and Black Jack.

"You have somebody with a little taste of power and an alcohol buzz on them, and the next thing you know he’s poking your manager," says Jeff Black, who owns both restaurants.

Don't blame Bowser's camp for hiring him, though. Last week, Bulger told LL that his new bosses in Bowser's Council office were in the dark about l'affaire Pearl Dive.

“They don’t know anything about it," Bulger told LL before refusing to comment further.

Bowser legislative director Rob Hawkins declined to comment extensively to LL on a personnel matter, saying only that Bulgar has been hired as the office's Ward 4 constituent service liaison.

Bulger's alleged troublemaking began when he was still working for Gray. On the evening of May 9, according to Pearl Dive and Black Jack manager Beau Monroe, the allegedly "extremely intoxicated" Bulger showed up at the restaurant during a busy Friday shift and demanded to see him. Bulger wanted to talk about a neighborhood dispute about where valet parking would be located, and a deluge of complaints he'd received from neighbors about it.

“The gist of it was he was pissed because his day got ruined," Black says.

The way Monroe describes Bulger to LL, the Ward 2 liaison makes for an unappetizing restaurant guest. According to Monroe, the allegedly boozy Bulger bragged about a supposed family connection to like-named Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger. More worryingly for the Gray administration, Monroe claims that Bulger even threatened to sic Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs inspectors on the restaurant as punishment for the valet parking controversy.

“Because you ruined my week, you’re going to get a visit from DCRA next week and they’re going to fine you heavily," Monroe recalls Bulger saying.

Gray chief of staff Chris Murphy appeared to take Monroe's account of the night seriously.

“I am mostly shocked to see this," Murphy wrote in an email to Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington head Kathy Hollinger, after Hollinger emailed him Monroe's complaints about Bulger. (LL obtained the email through the Freedom of Information Act.) "Please let Beau know how apologetic we are for this inexcusable incident. And sure him this will be dealt with."

Both Murphy and Steve Glaude, Gray's director of the Office of Community Affairs, declined to comment to LL about a personnel matter. In an email to Glaude, though, Murphy sounded upset.

“I think we need to assess the facts and take real action," Murphy wrote.

“This [is] so unacceptable," Glaude wrote back.

Black, who's supporting Bowser rival David Catania in the mayor's race, says he's worried that Bulger will be back in the mayor's office if Bowser wins.

"I would hate to think he’s going to have some sway over me again," Black says.

Read the email exchanges about the situation below:

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • noodlez

    THIS IS PURE BULLSHIT AND DOESN'T WARRANT A FULL OUT SPREAD BY THIS PRETENTIOUS MINER OF STORIES! DAMN I MISS SEWERMAN.

    WHO GIVES A FUCK ABOUT SOME LOW LEVEL SAUCED UP FLEXING MUSCLE?

    GAYTANIA AINT DID A MUTHA FUCKING THING FOR THIS CITY BUT PRANCE AROUND ACTING LIKE HE DID!

  • Pointing out the obvious (Again)

    Ooh, I forgot IAmNotALiberalDemocrat and Barry Morase, and I think maybe even noodlez, although he/her shows a lot more range than you normally do.

  • Jon Bon Jovi

    Pointing out the obvious, what in the hell are you rambling about? Are you off your meds?

  • Jon Bon Jovi

    Pointing out the obvious, you need to chill and smoke a Cuban cigar. You don't who's typing anonymous on a blog. Your rambling make you seem mentally unstable. Stop trying to out people on the Internet because they may have rejected your gay advances in the past.

  • REALDC

    These posts are hilarious!

    But for real, all you "monkeys" need help!

    Bowser's drunk staffer should be relieved of his duties!

  • Roscoe’s Wetsuit

    Ahh, refreshing to see the same old dummies all up in a tither about one thing or another.

    Here's what I learned from this article: Bulger worked for One City and showed up drunk to hassle a business. Regardless of what Bulger does on his time, once he shows up and and begins to throw his "connections" around, it's no longer his time. Poor move.

    One City should have invested in some remedial background checks, but we knew that already.

    Finally, Glaude and Murphy can barely spell. These emails are torture to read.

    One City, two brain cells - tops.

  • Pingback: ‘Love locks’ are not forever - The Washington Post

  • Pingback: District Line Daily: Catania’s Almost in the Race - City Desk

  • evolve

    Think about it: How could anyone working for the aptly-named Bowser get through the day without drinking to ease the embarrassment and pain?

  • SayWhat

    This is a crock of shi....., one would think that David Catania owned the citypaper and Mike DeBonis, I am telling you they do dirt for David like running water. It isn't going to work, where is the darn poll David Catania is speaking of? Release the poll data, he can't because it would show him losing by 45 points. Show me the poll data, I am from Missouri the show me state.

  • Peter Rosenstein

    Maybe some of the commenters should read this column carefully.

    "Don't blame Bowser's camp for hiring him, though. Last week, Bulger told LL that his new bosses in Bowser's Council office were in the dark about l'affaire Pearl Dive.

    “They don’t know anything about it," Bulger told LL before refusing to comment further."

  • how long? as long as the day is long.

    in a world where it can be claimed that the MH17 crash site was actually the plane lost over the pacific, what's a little dis/mis/piss information flying all over the internet among friends?

    you can read a lot by reading.

  • shawguy

    I didn't have any issue with Pearl Dive over this until Jeff Black, the owner, started commenting on here. By his own words, his manager was "insulted", and that appears to be the worst thing that happened in this incident, and yet he went to war over it?

    Mr. Black seems kinda childish to go to such an extreme over something so frivolous - if someone says something mean you you, you grow a pair and move on with your day. You don't go running to the teacher crying that someone hurt your feelings if you're older than five. He does not seem like the kind of guy I want to give my money to. I'm thinking I'll avoid Pearl Dive from now on.

  • Oz

    Peter Rosenstein, you are a hack. Limit your vacuous blather to the Blade where it is unlikely to offend no one since no one reads the Blade. People read WCP as evidenced by the healthy ad revenue. Or better still just shut up.

    I am not surprised you are sizing up Bowser's as in anticipation of putting your head into it. It was noticeably missing from Vinnie's at this and last year's Pride parade. If you had a shred of dignity you would just dissappear.

    So what is your take on candidates who run from the closet in DC in 2014? You have an opinion on everything else, why so silent on this? You have no integrity.

  • Joey

    Oz you are so right, but wrong. Peter is no hack, he is one more crazy queen that has not taken their medication.

    Peter has no integrity. King of Hypocrites. Dumped Vinnie to support a closeted gay candidate for Mayor. Normally it would not make a difference, but candidate is dishonest and lacks courage.

    So sad to see peter's head up Muriel's behind.

  • Fmr Govt Employee

    This is why talented people avoid the government. They can become collateral damage and unemployed at the drop of a hat. It’s better to make more money in the private sector if the job security is the same. I have a family to worry about so I’ll never go back to this nonsense.

    I’m sure whatever mistakes Bulger made shouldn’t prevent him from ever getting another job. Articles like this help to make sure he can’t in politically influenced roles. Hopefully a leader will step up to give him another chance. We’ll see if Bowser will keep him now that she knows this information.

    MOCRS (under Fenty) and ONE (under Gray) have no real power unless the Mayor wants something done. Anyone with ounce knowledge about DC govt should know that. This restaurant was never in any danger unless they were doing something they shouldn’t.

    The “journalists” that put these names out to the masses should be ashamed of themselves. But I’m not surprised. Low level campaign staffers and govt employees always become easy targets during campaigns. I’m sure there will be more silly articles like this in January after appointments are announced by the next mayor.

  • ROACHER

    meet the old boss same as the new boss

  • JGK

    wow, are there people on here really apologizing for this guy threatening a local business w/ action by a gov't agency (DCRA)? That's an immediate firing.

  • RORY

    Muriel is gay? That's breaking news!

    Please, she got more skeletons in her closet than a pirate. LL just take a glance at her team. Foo reels.

  • QStreetA

    Beau his job is to serve residents not enable restaurants for rich patrons to break the law or bend rules. Trash, rats, noise, parking and bad attitude are your signature dishes at pearl dive.

    Tell your employees to wash their hands after using toilet.

  • Proud Sally

    dc will elect first gay mayor. my girl muriel will surpass all others before her.

    Muriel's closet is about to get a whole lot bigger.

  • oh, carol

    that'd be a good name for a punk rock band, muriel's closet.

    a side "pearl dive"

    b side "davy jones' locker"

  • Beau M Deletes Comments

    Hey Beau, why did you deleted your comments? I'll paraphrase "the staff did not like Bulger, he took his job too seriously" sorry Beau maybe if you took your job seriously you wouldn't have so many people expressing what a shit job you do. Only positive thing I've heard is old whores say that your hot. Don't worry big guy in a few years maybe you can be GM not Assistant GM. Oh and you also deleted another comment saying "leave Jeff alone" guess you handler realized that you are a no talent ass clown that shouldn't have opened your mouth cause you have zero tact, but what do you expect from a 30 something ASSISTANT GM who slangs bottom feeders.

  • Tchoupitoulas!

    @Beau M Deletes Comments: “Beau M” was an imposter, which is not cool. The real Beau M is a class act pro, who I doubt will post a comment. He’s indeed the GM, not Assistant GM. Your post was mean spirited, abusive, and consistent with James Freddy Bulger's behavior on 5/9/14. Bulger’s actions were witnessed by 4 employees of Pearl Dive and several regular patrons on a busy Friday evening. I imagine it's embarrassing and difficult for some to accept--a beligerent, entitled, out-of-line Bulger slurrelling, with spitticles flying, not following golden rule but acting like an ass, abusing “powers”. Be that as it may (no interest in demonizing)...WHAT I FIND MOST TROUBLING HERE--*and telling*--is that in efforts to defend Bulger, a few posters here are attacking the victim once again, with a similar brand of illogical abuse. That ain’t right. Myself a regular Pearl Dive patron, the well-respected and gracious managers of Pearl Dive/Blackjack I’m sure had a thousand other things they’d rather be doing, but were compelled to take time and share this incident with their trade association. What would you have had them do, ignore and condone this behavior from a ward liaison? Bulger: “I represent hundreds of thousands...you ruined MY week”. How many patrons do the managers at Pearl Dive serve? How about their weeks? By all accounts, appears PD managers handled the incident with class, prudence and professionalism--in the face of rudeness and abuse---taking appropriate action. Having worked in the industry, I imagine the hard working-folks at Pearl Dive/Blackjack are busy serving up DCs finest, not focused on JFB or this soon to be forgotten, politicizing article that didn't need to be written. JFB, your behavior may have been out of character. Demonstrate that by taking honest accounting of your actions, show love/respect you’ll get it. Anyone who seizes each day and is strong enough to learn, move forward after mistakes has plum career prospects in just about anything--including dc politics.

  • @tchoup

    So "Beau M" said I am Beau Monroe and made statements, then deleted them including saying "the staff didn't like bulger" and then follwed it up by saying, in a separate comment "leave Jeff alone" was an imposter? Hmmmm yeah that sounds about as right as this article needed to be written. Dude gets a new job and an alleged incident comes out a week after. FOIA requests take longer than that. Regardless of the alleged incident, which was not witnessed by any patrons cause it happened outside, nice try. His "plum" career is f'ed. Beau who sent the email twice, and I have yet to hear about any actual recourse from the incident other than two cry babies having their day or week ruined, is a bitch and should reconsider his career. There are 3 sides to every story.

  • I WAS THERE

    I was there. Nothing happened. The verbal exchange that occurred between James and Beau on that date was respectful. Beau is professional, but he is still made of flesh and blood. He hated Burger's guts. Always saw him as a rich kid. Nothing could be further from truth.

    James should should sue PD for defamation, but he won't because unlike others James burger is not a snake.

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