It pays, quite literally, to be a buddy of Barry’s. A recent audit found the D.C. councilman and other elected officials in the District spent fiscal 2009 doling out more than 150 earmarks, worth nearly $48 million, to organizations with such illustrious credentials as owing back taxes and not being registered to do business in Washington. Many of the groups spent the ill-gotten funds on internal salaries, other overhead and various “fringe benefits” for employees.
The investigation, undertaken by auditor Deborah Nichols, was spurred by the discovery earlier this year that Councilman Barry, D-Ward 8, had been shifting money in the direction of women with whom he was “romantically involved,” according to The Examiner.
This comes less than six months after D.C. Councilman David A. Catania (I-At large) called for an investigation into Barry’s creative management of public funds. In June 2008, the convicted felon and four-term mayor apparently earmarked $1 million for organizations that did not exist at the time.
Two of these then-unborn groups were run by Barry staff members. The dubious-sounding Ward 8 Clean and Sober Inc. and Ward 8 Clean and Green also subverted licensing laws this past fiscal year by designating third-party “fiscal agents,” a designation for which there are absolutely no guidelines. One of these “agents,” GALA Hispanic Theatre, generously awarded itself a ‘just-because’ allowance of $16,000 for doing nothing. And seven of the earmark recipients lavished more than $11 million on themselves rather than on the public services their organizations purportedly sought to provide.