- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2002

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday said he would appear before the D.C. Council Committee on Government Matters to testify about unethical fund raising by his office.
"I am reluctant to testify because of the separation of powers, but yes, I will go before the committee," Mr. Williams said during his weekly press briefing, adding that it would be "ridiculous" for the council to hire a special prosecutor to investigate the matter.
Mr. Williams said he wants to dispel any doubts about his openness on the matter and tell the council what he knows.
Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr., Ward 5 Democrat and committee chairman, extended the invitation during a Tuesday hearing on a report about the fund-raising scandal. The hearing was the council's first on the report, which was released two weeks ago by D.C. Inspector General Charles C. Maddox.
Council members criticized Mr. Maddox and his 514-page report, calling it "inept," and blasted Mr. Williams for running an administration they said was rife with unethical conduct.
"I have answered these questions many, many times. Some of these things were clearly wrong, and I have already accepted responsibility for them," Mr. Williams said yesterday.
Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, said Mr. Williams' explanation that he was unaware of the rules of ethics and of the illegal fund raising "stretched the bounds of credulity," given the mayor's education and career in fiscal management. Mr. Williams served as the District's chief financial officer before becoming mayor.
Several council members yesterday expressed interest in appointing a special prosecutor, but they did not appear to be in full agreement.
Council member David A. Catania, at-large Republican, said he has not "weighed what [the councils] best approach is [and] deferred that decision to Mr. Orange."
Kevin P. Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat and a prospective challenger to Mr. Williams' re-election bid, said Tuesday the council "has no choice but to hire a special prosecutor," given what he deemed an incomplete report turned in by Mr. Maddox.
But Mr. Orange said he does not think such action needs to be taken at this time.
Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat, said a special prosecutor would be hired only if U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard Jr. does not investigate the mayor's office.
Mr. Howard's spokesman, Channing Phillips, yesterday told The Washington Times that "we have not completed our review of the report."
"But at some point we will report on what steps we will take," the spokesman said.
Mr. Williams yesterday said a special prosecutor would be a waste of time and money. "I think that a special prosecutor is a ridiculous idea," he said.
The purpose of the Special Prosecutor Act is to create an independent agent to investigate the president because the Justice Department the normal investigative agency reports to the commander in chief.
"In this instance, the people responsible for following up on the referrals on this [report] do not report to me," Mr. Williams said.
Mr. Maddox on Tuesday was forced to defend the findings of his office's 13-month investigation after council members described his assessment as "incomplete" and "not user-friendly."
In his report, Mr. Maddox blamed former members of the mayor's staff for improperly, and perhaps illegally, raising $1.5 million over 2 years. But the report said that nearly every member of the mayor's staff was involved.
Mr. Maddox forwarded his report to the U.S. Attorney, the Internal Revenue Service and the Office of Campaign Finance, all independent agencies.
Mr. Williams said he agreed with Mr. Maddox's assertions that all of the facts in the fund-raising scandal were compiled in his report, and that the council should wait for the appropriate authorities to take action.

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