- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2011

Within hours of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s saying he takes full responsibility for any administration missteps, D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown said Sunday night that he is referring allegations of Gray campaign improprieties to the D.C. Office of the Inspector General.

The case, which the mayor has asked the D.C. attorney general to probe, revolves around Sulaimon Brown, a Democrat who made his own run for mayor last year and now alleges that Gray campaign supporters gave him cash to back Gray and promised him a job.

The Gray administration did hire Mr. Brown, but last month he was fired.

Since then, Mr. Brown has spoken with numerous media, including TBD.com, saying the Gray administration treated him unfairly.

Sunday night, Kwame Brown called Mr. Gray “a dedicated public servant and a person of integrity,” but also said the council wants to get to the truth.

“I know he would agree with me that it is of the utmost importance that the truth of what happened comes out — no matter what it may reveal,” the council chairman said. “I have spoken with several Council members this evening and am concerned about this matter. The allegations made by Sulaimon Brown are only allegations at this point. However, they deserve an independent review and therefore I am referring the matter to the Office of the Inspector General.”

The chairman’s and the mayor’s comments were prompted by a story in The Washington Post that published numerous details about text messages and money exchanging hands between Sulaimon Brown and Mr. Gray, and between Sulaimon Brown and the Gray campaign and transition staffers.

Calling the story “surprising, shocking and appalling,” Mr. Gray said at a Sunday afternoon press conference that he had asked both the D.C. Office of the Attorney General and the D.C. Council to probe the matter and that he welcomed other external probes.

“It’s important that we know for certain what has transpired relative to my campaign and Sulaimon Brown, and that the people of the District of Columbia have complete trust in their government. The reported allegations of payments to Mr. Brown are reprehensible,” Mr. Gray said.

The mayor said he has taken several steps to ensure the public’s trust, including ordering more rigorous background checks.

“I take full responsibility for the missteps in our first 60 days,” Mr. Gray said. “We’ve also hired some very good managers and have done some very good things. But we cannot solve our problems if people do not have trust in their government. I am focused on ensuring fiscal stability, quality education and jobs for D.C. residents. I do not want to spend time on distractions because we have a lot of work to do.”