- The Washington Times - Friday, April 12, 2002

D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous was right on point the other day during an impassioned public hearing about the D.C. inspector general's report on improper and possibly illegal fund-raising activities in the administration of Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

"This is not Marion Barry," Mr. Chavous said, referring to the former scandalized mayor. "This is Tony Williams."

No question. If we were talking about Marion Barry raising money for his self-promotion under the ruse of helping foster children, the same people who staunchly support "Triple Teflon Tony" would be calling for Mr. Barry to be placed in a pillory in Freedom Plaza.

But not their beloved "Bow Tie Bandit." All his supporters can say is that "at least he's not Marion Barry." Want to bet? At least, Mr. Barry actually spread some of the wealth to the neediest. Mr. Williams only caters and kowtows to those who least need city services.

Three times Mr. Williams has apologized for unethical behavior in his varied campaign activities. Does he deserve another free pass?

Shame on him. When he was the city's chief financial officer, Mr. Williams harshly criticized Mr. Barry for exactly the same thing he's been caught doing. "Your intent, your purpose, your motivation is irrelevant," he said of his predecessor. "I don't care if you have a reception for the pope we all have to make sure we're in compliance with the law."

Talk about your words coming back to bite you.

Most amusing was the headline in an editorial in the Other Paper: "End of Squeaky Clean." When was Mr. Williams ever "squeaky clean?" Remember, this is the guy who said he would set a "new standard of integrity, accountability and openness."

Have a howl about this one: Charles Lewis, director of the Center for Public Integrity, told the OP that "part of [Mr. Williams] appeal was that he was the antidote to the Barry era. What's so fascinating is that now the antidote may be contaminated. This well-intentioned, squeaky-clean numbers guy with a bow tie is suddenly a little more calculating than anyone has given him credit for."

Correction: I knew better than to be fooled by the Williams media machine from the beginning. Yet few heeded my warnings and most jumped feet-first on the Bow Tie Bandwagon, buying the hype about this carpetbagging, self-serving, so-called "reformer."

Too bad. As my Grandma Bea used to say: "What goes on in the dark eventually comes out in the light."

Only a dim light, however. We need someone with an Olympic torch. Where did all those unaccounted-for cash donations go? Were there other slush funds?

Inspector General Charles C. Maddox in a 513-page report that took 13 months to prepare holds up only a candle to the shenanigans of virtually every member of the Williams administration.

D.C. Council members are right to call for a special prosecutor to shed more light on the mayor's fund-raising activities.

A special prosecutor is needed first and foremost because, even though Mr. Maddox has referred parts of his investigation to the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Internal Revenue Service, this case will not be viewed as a priority and could languish well past the city's upcoming elections. A grand jury would take too long.

Second, Mr. Maddox's report "raises more questions than answers," as council members contend. Twenty-three city workers questioned by the inspector general refused to testify, sought immunity or were accompanied by their attorneys including the mayor, who was represented by no fewer than three lawyers.

Mr. Williams, of course, thinks the idea of a special prosecutor is "ridiculous."

What's ridiculous is setting up the For the Kids Christmas party to shake down his well-heeled contributors for a tony gala. What's ridiculous is how this mayor had been allowed to get away with questionable practices and still face no challengers for re-election.

"Oh, there'll be a challenger if this investigation goes any further," said one city resident who worked on another mayoral campaign in the past election.

Lots 'o luck to that brave or crazed soul.

"People are surprised the council has gone this far with this investigation," said community activist Lawrence Guyot. "The assumption was that [the IG report] would be tucked away to gather dust and a few people would get slapped on the wrist."

Now "they want finality," Mr. Guyot said, adding "the only way to ensure impartiality is with an independent prosecutor."

"The inspector general has done his job, the city council did its job in getting this out to the public, and it's up to a special prosecutor to bring finality so every Washingtonian can have full faith in the government that it's ruled by law and not by men and women," he said.

Mr. Guyot cautioned that "the growing sentiment is that white people are going to do anything they can to protect Tony Williams."

All the more reason for an impartial inquisitor to find out if there is fire where there is smoke.

At a recent fund-raising reception, one local lawyer whispered that he is reluctant to contribute to Mr. Williams' re-election campaign because, with a $1 million war chest, Mr. Williams "doesn't need my money."

"How do I know what he's going to do with it?" the lawyer asked.

Teflon Tony has been propped up and protected by the Powers That Be and the press for too long.

Enough is enough of this double standard. Let him be scrutinized the way Marion Barry has been scrutinized, and let the chips fall where they may.

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