- The Washington Times - Friday, April 12, 2002

Members of the D.C. Council soon will meet with U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard to ask him to aggressively investigate the fund-raising scandal in Mayor Anthony A. Williams' office.

Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat, said she hopes Mr. Howard and the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance will conduct a full review of the executive office; otherwise, the council will have to hire a special prosecutor.

"The U.S. attorney must review the report, but he doesn't have to aggressively move forward or do anything beyond that," said Mrs. Cropp.

The council likely will not draft a resolution requesting that Mr. Howard conduct a full inquiry, she said, "but we can certainly ask him to investigate when we meet with him."

Several council members have expressed interest in appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the findings in D.C. Inspector General Charles C. Maddox's 514-page report about unethical fund raising in the mayor's office.

During a government matters committee hearing on Tuesday, members complained that the report released by Mr. Maddox two weeks ago was incomplete.

But the council as a whole has not reached a consensus on hiring a special prosecutor an issue that could be moot.

According to the District's Home Rule Charter, the council cannot act in the capacity of the U.S. attorney. In addition, the council's prosecutorial powers do not extend beyond misdemeanor violations, said officials in the council's Office of the General Counsel.

Council member Kevin P. Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat, first proposed the idea of a special prosecutor. Yesterday, he said the aim is not to prosecute but to investigate wrongdoing in the Williams administration.

"I just thought [a special prosecutor] could follow up on the report, fill the holes, talk to the people the inspector general missed and find the money trail," said Mr. Chavous, who has been touted as a likely challenger to Mr. Williams' re-election bid.

Mr. Chavous said all of the money raised in various schemes in the mayor's office can and should be accounted for. "There were bundles of cash being divvied out to people that are not in the financial records," he said.

In his report, Mr. Maddox blamed former members of the mayor's staff for improperly, and perhaps illegally, raising $1.5 million over 2½ years. But the report, which did not accuse Mr. Williams of being directly involved in the fund raising, noted 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. Chavous said spending more money and manpower on a second investigation is not in the city's best interest and the council has no interest in trying to go forward with its own prosecution.

"We just want to put the heat on everyone if there are criminal violations, and we think a special prosecutor could do that," he said.

Investigations are not new to the council. "We have done criminal investigations in the past," said Charlotte Brookins-Hudson, general counsel for the council.

The council investigated the Housing Finance Agency in the 1992 for improper expenditures. In 1998, the council first hired a special counsel to investigate charges of misconduct and mismanagement in the Metropolitan Police Department, Mrs. Hudson said.

The first criminal investigation conducted by the council occurred in 1989, when the city sent a delegation to the Virgin Islands to consult the U.S. territory on how to set up its own government. The investigation found that government resources were improperly used to house employees.

Mrs. Hudson said the council could request that its prosecutorial limitations be lifted, "but that would take an act of Congress."

In a letter to council member Vincent Orange Sr., Ward 5 Democrat, fellow member Kathy Patterson said the council's next move should be to request deadlines on the investigations for "the offices of the Chief Financial Officer, Campaign Finance and Tax and Revenue."

The inspector general's office has set an April 26 deadline for all D.C. agencies to map out what actions they will take.

Mrs. Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, also has requested that the Committee on Government Matters, which Mr. Orange leads, get a timetable from the U.S. attorney on what actions he will take before the council takes additional steps.

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