Efforts to hire Brown detailed in D.C. hearing

Panel hears testimony about hiring of city staffers’ children

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A former D.C. government worker said Monday he was directed by D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s chief of staff to find a job for controversial mayoral contender Sulaimon Brown.

Talib Karim said he was directed by Gerri Mason Hall, the mayor’s recently fired chief of staff, to find a place for Mr. Brown in the agency that matched his qualifications.

“I would assume he was interviewed,” said Mr. Karim, himself a prominent Gray campaign supporter who landed a job with the city’s Department of Healthcare Finance and then resigned when questions surfaced about his domestic life. He said he did not know the full extent of the process as it related to Mr. Brown.

The comments came in the course of a D.C. Council hearing Monday on Mr. Gray’s personnel practices, which have dogged the early days of his administration and resulted in investigations by local and federal officials and agencies.

Council member Mary M. Cheh, chairman of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment that held the hearing, said Mr. Brown’s claims of being paid and receiving a $110,000-a-year D.C. government job to stay in the mayor’s race and badmouth incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty were “the most dramatic allegations” so far.

“Not a good fit”

D.C. Inspector General Charles Willoughby testified that Ms. Hall, called him on Jan. 14 and ask him to meet with Mr. Brown “as a courtesy,” although the purpose wasn’t explicitly clear.

“In my mind, it was never an interview,” Mr. Willoughby said. “There was no application, and there was no opening.”

Mr. Willoughby said he met with Mr. Brown on Jan. 18 for about 15 minutes. Mr. Brown asked about an opening in the auditing unit, but Mr. Willoughby discovered the posted job had been filled back in June.

“He was very appreciative of me taking the time to meet with him, and that ended the meeting,” Mr. Willoughby said. He said former mayors Anthony A. Williams and Adrian M. Fenty never asked him to meet with anyone, nor did members of their staff.

Wayne Turnage, director of the Department of Healthcare Finance, said Mr. Brown was already working for the agency when Mr. Gray hired him from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Mr. Turnage said he decided to fire Mr. Brown because he was “not a good fit for the agency.”

“It was a very difficult conversation, as you can imagine,” Mr. Turnage said.

He said Mr. Brown acted like Mr. Turnage didn’t have the authority to fire him, and said he should check with the mayor’s office.

“He was given to making those kind of statements,” Mr. Turnage said. “I just didn’t give it any thought or consideration.”

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