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Gray releases records for funding of D.C. transition

Contributions near $1 million

- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2012

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray has released a long-awaited record of the funds he raised and spent for his transition into office last year, revealing more than $30,000 in payments to the Maryland man at the center of an investigation into Mr. Gray's campaign activities.

The audit of the One City Fund shows contributions of almost $1 million — $998,805 — from November 2010 to March 2011 and expenditures of $986,418, including $34,500 in consulting fees to Howard Brooks.

Mr. Brooks was a member of the Gray campaign team that Sulaimon Brown, a 2010 mayoral candidate, has accused of paying him cash to bash incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty at public forums.

Mr. Brooks has retained a lawyer and cited his Fifth Amendment rights in declining to testify at a D.C. Council hearing on Mr. Brown's claims and Mr. Gray's hiring practices in the early months of his term that began in January 2011.

Mr. Gray, a Democrat, distanced himself from Mr. Brooks in public comments throughout the last year. Meanwhile, the release of the audit by Hyattsville-based Benjamin and Associates comes after months of pressure at press gatherings to disclose how the unregulated funds were used.

"The report is consistent with the mayor's commitment to transparency and openness," said Gray spokeswoman Doxie A. McCoy.

Most of the money, more than $714,000, was used to pay for Mr. Gray's inauguration festivities at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The largest contribution, $50,000, came from Lincoln Holdings, a company run by D.C. sports team owner Ted Lerner. Howard University donated $25,000.

The audit also reveals $70,000 in consulting payments to Citadel Partners. The company is run by Reuben Charles, a businessman who spearheaded fundraising efforts for Mr. Gray but has kept a low profile since Mr. Gray's election.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District is looking into Mr. Gray's campaign and transition activities but has yet to reveal anything about the status of the investigation.

D.C. Council and House oversight committee probes into Mr. Brown's allegations found fault with practices and members of Gray's inner circle but fell short of the mayor.

The U.S. attorney is also investigating financial irregularities in reports submitted by D.C. Chairman Kwame R. Brown's 2008 re-election committee. Earlier this month, federal prosecutors obtained a guilty plea from former council member Harry Thomas Jr., Ward 5 Democrat who resigned and admitted to bilking more than $350,000 in public funds earmarked for youth programs.

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