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Is Gray's investigation independent enough?

On Sunday, District of Columbia mayor Vincent Gray acknowledged "missteps" in the vetting process for administration jobs. This follows accusations by former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown that he was offered a city job in exchange for making attacks on their then-opponent, former mayor Adrian Fenty, during the campaign.

Gray then did what countless leaders before him have done when they find themselves or their organizations in the midst of a scandal or controversy: He launched an investigation. The Post is reporting that Gray will ask city attorney general Irvin B. Nathan, who was appointed by Gray and is waiting to be confirmed, to lead the investigation.

I'm all for people in power taking the lead on sorting out any crisis of confidence in their organizations. And Gray is right that if indeed some of his aides made payments to Brown, or offered him a job in exchange for attacking a lead candidate, "they ought to be subject to whatever justice is required."

But the council members who say the investigation should not be led by a Gray appointee--chairman Kwame Brown is even referring the matter to the inspector general for "independent review"--are right. The only way for the public to have confidence the issue has been truly resolved is to hand it over to someone with no strings attached.

This would seem obvious if it didn't happen so often. CEOs hire--and thus, pay--outside law firms to investigate charges of poor conduct by employees, and then quietly remove the offender while staying hush hush on the findings. Politicians launch investigations into offenses by their aides that may result in the employee being fired, but do little to examine the culture of the organization that let such behavior thrive.

It is not clear whether or not the charges Sulaimon Brown has leveled against the mayor's administration are true--top advisers to Gray have said they would be shocked if anything like that happened, and Gray himself has said he "would never condone anything like that, period, point blank." The Post reported that it could not independently verify any of the alleged payments from Lorraine Green, Gray's campaign chairwoman, to Brown.

Still, Gray would have done better to call for an investigation by a party completely unrelated to his campaign. It is only someone in that position who can act with complete credibility and ask the bigger questions--if the matter turns out to be true--about what led it to happen in the first place.

By Jena McGregor

 |  March 7, 2011; 12:58 PM ET |  Category:  Bad leadership , Government leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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"Not true. Vince Gray asked Barry to campaign for him. And Barry brought in the Washington Teachers Union and all of Barry's political followers from the past thirty years."

I can only assume you're attempting to address two posts at once, THEHILLMAN, so I'll reply to the sentence above...

You're taking my post too literally. I'm talking about how readers continue to draw false parallels between a 3-month old new mayoral administration and one of the most notorious local politicians in recent history.

The two don't have the type of complex, sinister relationship and/or dealings that many posters like to infer.

Just because Gray asked Barry to campaign for in order to try to get some votes isn't a sign of any greater, more sinister relationship. Politics makes for strange bedfellows", remember.

President Obama will sit down and meet with Mitch McConnell, it doesn't mean they are buddies. Same for the President and Hillary Clinton, she's a member of his staff as a Cabinet secretary, still doesn't mean they are BFFs.

Plus, any lucid adult knows that the Barry comparisons are an attempt to scandalize Gray's administration, simple as that.

Posted by: ArmchairGM | March 12, 2011 10:49 AM

People all over the world are dying to get rid of corrupt leaders.Yet, we are learning the taxpayers of D.C. were hoodwinked by paid actors , friends or cronies of a crooked old man ;to elect one.I have never witnessed Political campaign bullying like that seen in the Gray campaign.I am now rereading the Portrait of Dorian Gray.It is a sad day in D.C. This is truly Hoodilum Gate.

Posted by: janeevehubbardsaveourcity | March 9, 2011 4:03 PM

I am getting disappointed with Gray but thay doesn't mean I in anyway that I would now yell on a roof top--damn it I miss Fenty. Fenty was his own great and deeply troubled individual ...and I would have voted for a ferrel squirrel before re-electing him.

The post is acting like a jealous jilted lover--if you defamed the new person maybe people will return-but it never works that way. Move on.

Posted by: CultureClub | March 9, 2011 10:14 AM

When one discussed the Williams era one tends to forget that he and most of the current DC Council voted to use taxpayer money to fund the Nat's stadium and then 'forgot' to actually the owners to pay taxes. This was in exchange for free box seats and placing family members and friends like Cora on the Athletic Commission and creating tennis courts for Tony and Cora and racking up interesting travel. One might recall that Tony, upon leaving office, went to work for the Nats and still travels to watch tennis using questionable funds which happens to include taking his newest young tennis 'friends.' But then who is remembering ? Right? Grey is a crook who just got caught early and this deal will hang over him until either he resigns due to a sudden illness and gets a City pension. If the Fed's could not get Barry then then rest are pretty safe. But real fun starts when the MLK memorial is up and running. Man it is great to live in DC. And we will not forget to laugh about the appointment of Daly as WH CofS.

Posted by: KBlit | March 9, 2011 9:32 AM

"Look at how many posts keep bringing up Barry, the two men don't have anything to do with each other, but no matter."

Not true. Vince Gray asked Barry to campaign for him. And Barry brought in the Washington Teachers Union and all of Barry's political followers from the past thirty years.

They were deeply involved.

The question was asked then. Would this mean Gray would bring back the Barry era, with political patronage, etc.

Gray said no.

His recent behavior suggests otherwise.

As for the race angle, you are aware that Fenty is black, right? As was Tony Williams.

It's sortof hard to claim this is racism when all the candidates are black.

Posted by: TheHillman | March 9, 2011 8:09 AM


First, most of my white neighbors voted for Gray.

So much for your racist conspiracy.

And you really don't see a problem with Gray and his team lying to the Washington Post about their repeated contacts with Brown?

Really? You see no problem?

And, yes, political appointments are made when a new Mayor is elected.

But the position that Brown applied for was not a political appointee position.

And it's a vital position, overseeing medical care for half a million people.

Are you really comfortable with an unqualified person being given this job?

Posted by: TheHillman | March 9, 2011 7:57 AM

DC played the race card and lost. While on the Council Grey managed to hide but now he is paying the price. DC offices are being stacked with no show-low work high pay appointees, the school system has returned to the place to put ghosts payrolls and award lucarative contracts. One never seems find out how and why each council member receives over $400,000 in what is slush money but then the theft never seems to stop. Of course if you look at Maryland with the now not to be found slots, Virginia with the equally lost lottery money and the deal in Spotslyvania County with the Board of Supervisors selling the county to Carl Silver you wonder why we have the nerve to critisize the Afghan's for ripping us off. But then we also have Bill Clinton and his secret deals with Haiti and inside deals with the State Department. Oh well.

Posted by: KBlit | March 9, 2011 7:31 AM

This episode unfortunately vindicates my opinion of Mr. Gray. I'm a resident of Ward 8 and during the campaign Mr. Gray and his minions constantly trumpeted in my neighborhood that Mayor Fenty was just for the White residents and that he, Gray, was for the Blacks of the city. This type of disingenuos fear mongoring spoke volumes to me about the ethcis of Mr Gray and his staff. I hope that his tenure is short and his damage to the city is minimal.

Posted by: JDYoung | March 9, 2011 2:23 AM


Why does it always have to be about race? Quite frankly, that "white people trying to bring a black man down" mantra is getting pretty threadbare. If Gray violated election laws then the color of his skin is immaterial. Or, are you suggesting that he should get a pass because he is a black politician in a minority majority city?

Now THAT is racism.

Posted by: hisroc | March 8, 2011 10:23 PM

"...strong men keep a comin' on."

Stay strong, Mayor Gray.

The People

Posted by: broadwayjoe | March 8, 2011 8:02 PM

This is a sad pathetic smear of Gray by the Post, which refuses to accept the fact that Vincent Gray trounced (and then ran out of town) its frontman Fenty.

What's comical is that the Post admits upfront it has NO evidence Gray paid this street hustler Brown any money to do anything. But why let total absence of proof interfere with a smear? In any event, aside from the Gray-haters and ray-cysts, does anyone care whether this street dude Brown got some po' chop money from a campaign worker?

The rest of the Post's fake controversy is dog-bites-man stuff. EVERY successful political campaign concludes with the winning candidate rewarding campaign workers for a job well done. Further, the storyline isn't credible: look, Gray hardly needed to pay Brown to trash Fenty given that 300,000 DC blacks were already doing a good job of it (for good reason).

If rewarding campaign workers is an evil, then I guess we'll see the Post now go after the wealthy fundraisers who were given Ambassadorships. ... Er, I guess not.

It's sad Mayor Gray took the Post's bait regarding this fake controversy, and ordered a formal probe into this foolishness. That, of course, ensures the Post can keep this nonsense going for months, likely followed by another fake controversy, and another, and another. Poor Mayor Gray. He should have ignored this.

The good news? This smear will not cause one person who voted for Gray to change his/her vote the next time around. The People see through the Post's "Plan."

Posted by: broadwayjoe | March 8, 2011 7:56 PM

Just don't get the hatred for Vincent Gray....just don't get it.

Vincent Gray beat Adrian Fenty fair and square and what's his reward for that?

A vendetta started up by the local Washington media directed at him with all the attendant accusations/inferences that his, what 3 month-old, brand new administration is the reincarnation of Marion Barry's? Wooooooow.

If some are tired of corrupt DC city officials, I'm tired of the that AND relentless scandalizing of any city administration or mayor by the Washington Post/Media.

Just because the population didn't vote for who the Post THOUGHT they should have doesn't mean the Post has to turn on the newly elected person.

It's the ultimate sour grapes...."you ignorant black so and sos didn't vote for who we at the Post, thought you should (Fenty), so we're going to retaliate by subjecting Gray's administration to endless scandals."

Ever notice that Post writers? Ever notice that when the majority black population of DC votes for someone you don't like as mayor, you scandalize the crap out of that person?

The raw hatred and venom being directed at a 3 month-old brand new mayor is disgusting, the comparisons to Marion Barry are beyond the pale.

Then both the Post and white readers are suprised/turned off by the circling of the wagons black voters do for the embattled person. What unmentioned of course, is the sense of proportionate fairness we black DC voters have. It's patently unfair to keep name-dropping Marion Barry into Vincent Gray's nascent administration.

I don't care what anyone says...it's a racially coded "signal" to primarily whites to feel a certain way....and it works. Look at how many posts keep bringing up Barry, the two men don't have anything to do with each other, but no matter.

Both the Post and many readers have to get over the fact that Fenty lost. He lost because he didn't patronize the middle class as he should have-POINT BLANK.

It had nothing to do with the dominant Post narrative of "blacks in DC don't think Fenty is "black enough". That's some bullisht. Or the other narrative, that racial tension between blacks/whites exacerbated by Michelle Rhee was the cause.

Wrong again.

D.C. is a democratic city, so both the whites and blacks there are largely liberal and democratic-there is NEVER as much racial tension as the local media makes it out to be, both races are too like-minded in DC.

Fenty lost because many black middle-class voters looked around at the Condos built on his watch that they couldn't afford & didn't ask for AND they looked at the brand-new almost-free Townhomes that the poor and mistake-prone received and wondered "what am I getting out of this, other than 700 new speed-humps?" (Under Fenty, D.C. went from having about 300 speed-humps to about a 1,000-not a move of voter endearment perhaps?)

So how about it WashPost, how about not punishing Vincent Gray's mayorship because of sour grapes about the Fenty loss?

Posted by: ArmchairGM | March 8, 2011 6:34 PM

Meanwhile, troops loyal to the chief executive are reported to be digging trenches and reinforcing defensive positions...

Oh wait. That's Tripoli and not DC. Never mind.

Posted by: hisroc | March 8, 2011 5:33 PM

The Washington Post already did an independent investigation. I read the article myself. And I say Gray is guilty! Guilty of being stupid. It's the only explanation for why he hired and then fired a man who has texts and phone records.

Posted by: forgetthis | March 8, 2011 9:46 AM

"He appeared to have qualifications for the job he was hired into"

Nonsense. Everyone in town knew he was a nut job. Including Gray. And everyone on his staff.

And here's a thought.... I don't know a single employer that simply accepts a resume at face value. They check up on it, particularly for high level positions. They call the employers listed. They check references. These days they do a Google search, and a background check.

But apparently none of that was done.

Which stands to reason, as he was referred by the Mayor.

Only an idiot that wants to lose their job would turn down a mayoral referral.

Posted by: TheHillman | March 8, 2011 8:59 AM

The only 'independent' investigation would have to be accomplished by Department of Justice. BUT, Eric Holder would never touch it because in might 'DEMEAN' Gray -- one of "HIS PEOPLE"!

There in sports fans is the pickle we are in!!

Posted by: wheeljc | March 8, 2011 8:55 AM

"I will be among the mayor's loudest critics if someone shows me evidence that he has done something illegal."

Again, he lied about his contacts with Brown.

He said he had no contact with him. Then turns out he had a substantial phone call late at night, and numerous text messages promising to honor their 'agreement'.

True, the lie may not be illegal. But certainly unethical at best.

I have yet to see you address the issue of Gray lying to the taxpayers.

There is simply no way Gray could have forgotten about promising an 'agreement' with Brown, particularly since Brown is a nut job, and I would be prone to remember every second of a conversation with him.

And I would certainly remember text messages promising to honor 'an agreement'.

Posted by: TheHillman | March 8, 2011 8:55 AM


You are so lucky that you aren't sitting on a jury judging your guilt or innocence, because you are jumping to way too many conclusions about Mayor Gray, based on a lack of evidence of wrongdoing on his part.

I will be among the mayor's loudest critics if someone shows me evidence that he has done something illegal.

Have you never worked a campaign? Do you realize how many phone calls a candidate for mayor makes and receives in any given day of a campaign? There's no context in anything the media have reported about the mayor making ONE phone call to Mr. Brown early in the campaign. If there was nothing significant about the phone call, why would the mayor remember it? I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, given NO PROOF that the mayor is lying about not remembering.

As far as the city hiring Mr. Brown and then firing him, read his resume. He appeared to have qualifications for the job he was hired into. Apparently, he either lied about his job qualifications or did something else to cause his dismissal from the job so soon. Isn't this an example of the mayor doing something RIGHT, rather than wrong, by his administration dismissing Mr. Brown from his job under these circumstances?

Scattered reports in the media indicate that other questioned "campaign hires" have resigned their positions. Isn't this further evidence that Mayor Gray may be doing something RIGHT in response to these reports? (as long as we're all jumping to conclusions about Mayor Gray...)

I do not know the mayor personally and I did not campaign for anyone, but I have lived in D.C. for 30 years and have seen nothing in my close observations of our local government to indicate that Mayor Gray is dishonest. I think it is an absolute travesty that he is being tarred and feathered over flimsy charges, when our mayor's attention needs to be focused on resolving a lot of serious issues facing our city.

I also think the mayor is getting horrible advice from his advisers -- regarding politics, regarding communication with the public and regarding his administration's inability to launch some initiatives early in his mayoralty. I think he needs to read the riot act to his team, which is obviously not serving him well, and replace them if they are unable to envision a functional D.C. government that is transparent in providing service to D.C. residents and taxpayers. And he needs to use plain talk, rather than political code words like "misstep" -- which mean different things to different people.

Posted by: Kathy8 | March 8, 2011 8:43 AM

Lorraine Green and her boyfriend, Howard Brooks denying the allegations of paying cash to Sudaimon Brown and offering him a job is a “LIE”.

Green approved and told Brooks what to do and he did it. I do not believe Mayor Gray knew anything about the CASH nor do I believe Gray knew anything about who was being HIRED. LINDA BOYD, Gray’s communications staffer has hired five (5) of her relatives including her son and no one is reporting that! Do you think the reason is because Boyd has established a relationship over the years with reporters and have asked them NOT to report this story? REPORTERS – Do your job and check into the Linda Boyd hiring relatives to include her son…..I do not believe Mayor Gray approved this ….. but I can tell you that Lorraine Green did. ….. and trust me, Green was “forced” into retirement by AMTRAK. In addition to her AMTRAK Office being investigated and now all of this “MESS” they had to get rid of her and they did it in a nice way due to her 14-years of Service. MAYOR GRAY ---- you need to distant yourself from LORRAINE GREEN …. She is an UN-educated “non-degree” , “piece of work” who brought All of this “MESS” on “YOURSELF”!

Posted by: DeRailedGrayTrain1 | March 8, 2011 7:59 AM


You say there is no credible evidence of wrongdoing.

Vince Gray told the WP and others that he had no contact with Sulaimon Brown. Then the WP confronted Gray with phone and text records that clearly showed otherwise.

Do you think it is acceptable to lie to DC taxpayers? Because that's exactly what Gray did.

Yes, Brown is a nutcase. But that doesn't excuse Gray's directly lying about his contact with Brown.

Or do you think that's acceptable behavior for a Mayor?

And do you really think that all Brown was promised was a job interview that anyone else could have gotten just by walking in off the street? If so, why is it that he got a job interview for a very highly paid position clearly well beyond his skill and training level, and then how did he actually get that job even though he was unqualified?

I don't know if Gray authorized cash bribes to Brown. But so far Gray has been caught lying about the extent of his contact with Brown. And he was clearly involved in getting an unqualified person a job that taxpayers pay for.

Both of those things are just as bad as bribes, in my book.

Care to comment?

Posted by: TheHillman | March 8, 2011 6:25 AM

I agree completely with RLJ1's comment. Why is the drum being beaten so loudly by the Post, claiming the public cannot trust Mayor Gray and our other public servants on this issue, when Sulaimon Brown has offered NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE of wrongdoing by anyone except Sulaimon Brown??

Almost everybody seems to be jumping to HUGE conclusions by calling into question Mayor Gray's integrity when the documentation backing these allegations so far amounts to nothing but supposition.

The D.C. government is facing serious fiscal problems, just as almost every other local government is facing due to our nation's economic problems (brought to us by a federal government that failed to do proper oversight of Wall Street and financial institutions, thank you very much -- so DON'T ASK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT to try to fix any problems it has helped cause in D.C.!).

Mayor Gray and our other city leaders need to be focused on the serious business at hand -- not these flimsy allegations.

Shame on the Washington Post!

Posted by: Kathy8 | March 8, 2011 12:46 AM

You gotta love Vince Gray - brining back the good ole days of Marion Barry and his gang of crooks! And...let us not for get Kwame Brown, that great inspiration for all black politicians in the District...drive the big Lincoln SUV Kwame!

Posted by: MoonDoggie | March 7, 2011 11:07 PM

We folk from DC Schools love you taxpying fools. I, Dr Cliff Thomas, karate dude from Bladensburg Rec in PeeGeeCee takes advantage all the time and the higher-ups laugh like I do at you'll.
When will you voters learn we love to burn! I graduated from Eastern HS and V. Gray from Dunbar and Kwame from Spingarn and nothing will happen to us cause the FEDS do it too.

Posted by: NoDocCliffThomasKarate | March 7, 2011 8:41 PM

Yes Kwame, bring in the concrete, and before it sets, you and Mayor Gray jump in it so we can toss both of you off the 14th Street Bridge.

Posted by: johng1 | March 7, 2011 4:50 PM

It seems, to me, that Brown should be required to first offer concrete evidence and then an "independent" person should investigate.

Posted by: rlj1 | March 7, 2011 3:57 PM

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