EXCLUSIVE: D.C. contractor repairs Council Chair’s home

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“I don’t want to sound holier than thou,” he said, “but I take my integrity very seriously.”

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the arrangement “sounds like a favor, because the company provided services that it doesn’t usually provide to an elected official who is in a position to approve city contracts.”

“It’s clearly inappropriate,” she added.

Mr. Gray bought his house, in the well-groomed Hillcrest neighborhood, in 1984, city records show. An iron gate lines the perimeter of the stately brick home, with two stories above ground and a walk-out basement and garage, which sits on a 12,390-square-foot corner lot.

The property features stone retaining walls, a walkway of brick pavers from front to rear, large stone posts at the head of the driveway and multicolored terra cotta tiles on the roof and the front dormer.

Mr. Gray said that two years ago, he had exterior work performed on his property. He declined to identify the scope of work, the contractor or the cost, insisting only that William C. Smith & Co. did not do the work and that he paid for the work in full.

The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs requires permits for a multitude of home-improvement projects, including building fences or decks or performing wiring for electrical work or lighting.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act filed by The Washington Times on Oct. 7, DCRA wrote on Nov. 9 that it “has concluded the search for all permits issued [at Mr. Gray’s house] and nothing was found.”

When informed of the letter, Mr. Gray replied, “Well isn’t it up to the contractor to pull permits?” He also said The Washington Times has no evidence that any of the work at his home required a permit.

DCRA spokesman Michael Rupert said Tuesday that property owners are primarily responsible for obtaining permits, and contractors are secondarily responsible. If DCRA determines that illegal work was performed, Mr. Rupert said, the consequences include a $2,000 fine for the owner and potential loss of license for the company that performed the work.

Mr. Gray said that should anyone question his integrity, he has no problem showing documentation to prove that his home repairs and improvements and plans for renovation are aboveboard.

“It would be bothersome to anyone to have their integrity questioned,” he said. “Why am I being singled out?”

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