A report by the D.C. Council slams city Mayor Vincent Gray’s administration with evidence of corrupt hiring practices, adding more fuel to a slew of ethical questions surrounding the alumnus within the first year he entered office.
The account includes hundreds of pages of documents detailing what it calls “clear evidence” that Gray hired senior administration officials’ children, as well as instances of cronyism. High-level officials in his office also received salaries that topped the legal limit.
Earlier this year, Gray faced fire after Sulaimon Brown – a former mayoral candidate and ex-city employee – alleged that Gray paid him and guaranteed him a job if he verbally attacked former Mayor Adrian Fenty while campaigning in November.
Gray’s office did not return a request for comment.
“Strong evidence” within the report found that Howard Brooks, a senior Gray campaign official, did provide Brown $1,160 in funds during the campaign, and that others also promised him a job.
The Gray administration’s actions caused “deep harm to the District government,” the report said. “Although this damage is not irreparable, it will take time for the residents of the District of Columbia to regain their trust in their government.”
The council’s report faults the mayor’s specific top-level aides and glosses over Gray personally in the blame game, but adds that he still is accountable for his staff’s mistakes.
“These individuals abused their authority and the Mayor’s trust, and permitted persons to be hired in violation of local and federal laws and without following standard personnel procedures…when those actions and errors were discovered, it is unfortunate that the Gray administration did not act more swiftly to investigate and repudiate the unlawful actions that occurred,” the report said.
It is not uncommon for mayors to engage in nepotism and cronyism, sociology professor William Chambliss said.
“Really, the difference between any two administrators is whether or not there’s a whistleblower,” Chambliss said, referring to Brown’s accusations against Gray that sparked subsequent ethical probes into Gray’s office.
Chambliss added that Gray might be able to weather his political storm if he manages city operations well – by, for example, getting D.C.’s trash picked up on time and the snow plowed during winter.
He said District citizens are accustomed to wildly corrupt administrations, citing former Mayor Marion Barry.
“The citizens in Washington are extremely forgiving of the transgressions of their officials,” Chambliss said.