Ex-D.C. mayoral candidate Brown testifies of alleged Gray deal

Sulaimon Brown arrives on June 6, 2011, to testify before a D.C. Council committee at the Wilson Building in Washington about allegations that he was paid off by Mayor Vincent C. Gray, then promised a government job. (Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times)Sulaimon Brown arrives on June 6, 2011, to testify before a D.C. Council committee at the Wilson Building in Washington about allegations that he was paid off by Mayor Vincent C. Gray, then promised a government job. (Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times)
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The D.C. politician whose allegations wreaked havoc on the Gray administration before it ever got rolling, strode into city hall on Monday to finally give his on-the-record account about purported campaign payoffs and other electoral irregularities.

Under court order, former 2010 mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown told a D.C. Council committee investigating potential nepotism and questionable hiring practices by Mayor Vincent C. Gray, that he first met Mr Gray and his campaign chairman at Howard University in late June 2010. That set off a stream of purported payments and the promise of a job to bash then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty during the campaign.

Mr. Brown’s highly anticipated testimony before the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment began with TV cameras following him into a hearing room at the John A. Wilson Building. Surrounded by a cult of personality since his explosive allegations began in February, Mr. Brown donned sunglasses for the event and refused to take them off.

His testimony was contentious at times, and he frequently interrupted committee Chairwoman Mary M. Cheh and committee member David Catania, whom Mr. Brown called “a witness” in the hearings.

Mr. Brown also testified that he met with Gray campaign Chairman Lorraine Green in the rotunda of Union Station after meeting Mr. Gray to lay out his request for a city job and payments to support his own campaign.

Sulaimon Brown waits on June 6, 2011, to testify before a D.C. Council committee at the Wilson Building in Washington about allegations that he was paid off by Mayor Vincent C. Gray, then promised a government job. (Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times)

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Sulaimon Brown waits on June 6, 2011, to testify before a D.C. ... more >

He said Ms. Green said something like: “Talking to me is like talking to Vince.”

Mr. Brown said he received a $110,000-a-year job at the Department of Healthcare Finance in January. He was fired in late February over questions surrounding his past and behavior on the job.

He said such “disrespect” and “character assassination” prompted him to go public with his accusations about a quid pro quo agreement on the campaign trail.

Mrs. Cheh sought and was granted the court order forcing Mr. Brown to testify after more than a dozen witnesses described a “fast-track” pattern of hiring by the Gray administration.

Mr. Brown also insulted council members’ qualifications.

“I have two jobs, and you have none,” Mr. Catania responded at one point. “I’m clear now why you were fired … , but what remains unclear to me is why you were hired in the first place.”

Mr. Brown carried a manila folder with purported copies of money orders said to have been provided to him by campaign consultant Howard Brooks and signed by members of Brooks‘ family. He testified about the documents, but declined to provide them to the committee until he consulted with an attorney over Ms. Cheh’s formal request for the documents.

Mr. Brown laid out a timeline of the purported payments and their location. Among them, he testified, was an Aug 4 meeting with Mr. Gray and Mr. Brooks outside the Eatonville restaurant to thank him for assistance in a debate. He said Mr. Brooks then gave him a payment.

Mr. Brown testified he recorded payments in his income-tax returns, prompting Mr. Catania to request a copy.
Mr. Gray, a Democrat, has said Mr. Brown was promised only a job interview, but was given no payments to his knowledge and made no quid pro quo agreements to attack Mr. Fenty.

But Mr. Brown claimed on Monday that his early criticism of Mr. Fenty won the Gray campaign over, notably his turn of phrase, “Go Brown, go Gray, go any color but Fenty.”

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