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Gray staffer quits amid uproar over vote in D.C.

Pringle had moved to Montgomery County

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mayor Vincent C. Gray's deputy chief of staff resigned from her post barely a week after she arrived at city hall, citing the "distraction" created by revelations she voted in September's D.C. primary despite living in Maryland.

Andi Pringle, who has lived in Montgomery County for the past 18 months, submitted a letter of resignation late Wednesday. In it, she addresses Mr. Gray, stating she joined his administration "because I believe in this city and you as its Mayor."

"I now realize I have become a distraction from the important work of your administration," she said in the letter. "I have always placed the interest of the greater good above my personal desires and wishes. At this point I feel the greater good will be serve by me stepping aside."

Mr. Gray said he had accepted her resignation and will not let it distract him from the business of the city.

"I appreciate her taking responsibility for her actions," he said.

Ms. Pringle was introduced as part of a push to restore credibility to an administration unsettled by early scandals largely involving its hiring practices and its vetting of prospective employees.

Mr. Gray had addressed the situation during his weekly news briefing on Wednesday morning, before the resignation, explaining that he wanted to speak to Ms. Pringle further before drawing conclusions about the negative reports.

"It's a sore point," he said. "I don't want to at all discount that."

The mayor introduced Ms. Pringle and his new chief of staff, Christopher Murphy, at a news event on Aug. 30. Shortly thereafter, a report about Ms. Pringle's voting record by Dorothy Brizill on her watchdog website, DC Watch, uncovered the Maryland-District discrepancy. The issue raised questions, yet again, about the Gray administration's vetting process.

"Do I wish this had not happened? Of course I wish this had not happened," Mr. Gray said. "Do I wish we did not have to deal with this? Of course, especially since this is something we were hoping to get past from the early days of this administration, to have questions raised about the people we have hired and if their backgrounds were properly reviewed."

Mr. Gray stopped short of indicating whether Ms. Pringle's future with the administration could be in jeopardy.

Adding to the mayor's troubles, The Washington Post said in an editorial on Wednesday that the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs revoked the articles of organization of the firm on Ms. Pringle's resume, Pringle Communications Group Inc., in November 2009 for failing to file certain reports.

Mr. Gray said he did not know about either issue prior to reading about them in news reports.

"The issues that were raised here, both of them escaped our review," Mr. Gray said. "It's very unfortunate they did. The information was not shared with us before Ms. Pringle came onboard."

Ms. Pringle addressed the issue in a statement last week, explaining she voted in the primary "with the understanding that since I had not severed ties with my community, nor established residency in Maryland, I should vote at the precinct where I had voted for the past eight years. If this was in error, I apologize."

The mayor said he understands the sudden media scrutiny on this issue, but asked observers to recognize numerous appointees who have been "incredibly worthy."

"I don't think a process should be evaluated on the basis of one person," he said.

Although Mr. Murphy sat at the front of the room on Wednesday, Ms. Pringle did not attend the news conference.

Mr. Gray said she was not asked to stay away.

Hiring practices have played an unusually large role in the first year of Mr. Gray's term.

He fired his first chief of staff, Gerri Mason Hall, in March amid a firestorm of scrutiny about alleged nepotism, illegally high salaries and improper vetting of political appointees. A special D.C. Council committee investigated the claims and issued a critical report last month.

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