- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2011

5:18 p.m.:Sulaimon Brown managed to hijack the D.C. political spotlight once again without opening his mouth — at least not in the right place.

Brown, who got a $110,000-a-year D.C. government, was fired, then created shockwaves last month by claiming he received the job and cash payment to stay in the mayor’s race and badmouth incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, went on a rant in the lobby of the John A. Wilson Building before leaving instead of testifying before the Committee on Government Operations and Environment.

Brown was the most anticipated witness at a second hearing Thursday on Mr. Gray’s personnel practices, which have been dogged by allegations of nepotism and resulted in investigations by local and federal officials and agencies.

“I would not be a part of the witch hunt in there,” Brown said, moments before he was asked to report for testimony.

Brown made unsubstantiated claims that the chair of the committee, Mary M. Cheh, and member David Catania are engaged in cronyism and not suitable to sit on the committee looking into Mr. Gray’s practices.

“They’re lawyers, they should know better.” he said, holding court over a circle of reporters. “That’s illegal what they’re doing.”

His departure prompted Ms. Cheh to sign a subpoena in the hallway during a break in testimony at the marathon hearing.

Ms. Cheh said Mr. Brown is making up accusations to avoid testifying.

Asked if she and Mr. Brown had mutual friends that might seek jobs in city government, she said, “I hope not.”
Thursday’s summit drew a slew of media, city employees and other interested parties to a first-floor room hearing room.

Testimony cast a sympathetic light on the hiring of cabinet members’ children, many of whom were forced to resign amid public scrutiny.

Outside the hearing, Ms. Cheh noted they offered candid testimony and appeared to be highly educated and qualified.

“I’m at least glad they had a chance to tell their story,” Ms. Cheh said.

But testimony from higher-level officials, notably Rochelle Webb, intrigued the committee as it delved into the executive’s hiring practices.

Ms. Webb, the mayor’s first nominee for Department of Employment Services, accused the administration of taking away her job without notice because she might provide damaging testimony before the committee.

Ms. Webb testified mounting scrutiny about her used of city dollars and management practices were used as a pretext to get rid of her.

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