- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2002

Scott Bishop Sr. the man taking most of the blame for forgeries and irregularities in D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams' petition scandal has retained a lawyer who says his client shouldn't have to pay for mistakes made by the campaign's top administrators.
Attorney David Wilmot has agreed to counsel Mr. Bishop and his family for free if they are charged with criminal violations in connection with the thousands of apparently forged signatures submitted on behalf of Mr. Williams' re-election campaign.
"I've been retained by the Bishops to assist them with this matter," Mr. Wilmot said.
Mr. Bishop, his son Scott Bishop Jr. and daughter-in-law Crystal Bishop are credited with collecting 6,900 of the 10,240 signatures the mayor submitted to election officials to put his name on the Sept. 10 Democratic primary ballot. Mr. Bishop has said he is not sure how his name or the names of members of his family got on so many petitions.
"I don't know that my client signed anything," said Mr. Wilmot, who has not seen any of the petitions.
Sources close to the campaign said yesterday that Mr. Bishop, who quit his job as a city employee to take a job with the Williams campaign, is being set up as a "fall guy."
Mr. Bishop is a longtime campaign worker for D.C. Council and mayoral elections, having worked for council members Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat, and Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, and on the mayoral campaign of Democrat John Ray.
He has a reputation for working diligently at odd jobs, like putting up posters. He was Mr. Evans' driver in his 1998 mayoral bid.
Council member Kevin P. Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat, said Mr. Bishop is affectionately referred to as the "poster king."
But Mr. Bishop has never been asked to supervise or oversee any aspect of a campaign until he was hired to collect signatures for petitions by the mayor's campaign, according to friends.
Mr. Bishop first worked for Mr. Williams during his 1998 campaign after leaving the campaign of Mr. Evans.
"After Jack lost in the 1998 primary, Mr. Williams hired Warren Graves and several other Evans people," said John Ralls, Mr. Evans' chief of staff.
Mr. Bishop was one of the people hired by the mayor through Mr. Graves, Mr. Ralls said.
Mr. Evans and Mr. Bishop are friends, he said, and the council member recommended Mr. Bishop to Mr. Williams' campaign.
What some council members and political organizers want to know is how Mr. Bishop, with his lack of experience at handling much more than odd jobs around a campaign, could have been put in charge of such a critical part of the mayor's re-election bid.
Ann Walker Marchant, the mayor's campaign spokeswoman, said she did not know who hired Mr. Bishop.
But Tony Bullock, Mr. Williams' spokesman, said campaign adviser Charles N. Duncan hired Mr. Bishop. Mr. Williams announced that he had accepted Mr. Duncan's resignation Wednesday at a press conference at his campaign headquarters.
Neither Mr. Duncan nor current campaign manager Gwen Hemphill returned phone calls from The Washington Times yesterday.
Mr. Wilmot was contacted by at least three council members who pleaded with him to help the Bishops, said District government officials.
But Mr. Wilmot said he is offering his services out of a "special obligation" he feels to represent the "last, least and the lost."
"When elephants get to fighting, grass gets trampled. And Scott Bishop is the grass," Mr. Wilmot said.
Mr. Wilmot also is representing former Williams administration figure Mark Jones, the city's ex-deputy chief financial officer who has been accused of pressuring political contributors and creating phony nonprofits to funnel money through Mr. Williams' office over a two-year period.
Mr. Williams said yesterday that his campaign submitted enough legitimate names to earn a spot on the Sept. 10 Democratic primary ballot despite thousands of apparently falsified signatures.
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics is reviewing the signatures and will decide whether Mr. Williams has the required 2,000 valid signatures by July 30.
If the board a three-member panel appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the D.C. Council finds that there are not enough valid signatures, Mr. Williams will be scratched from the ballot. He would have the option of running as a write-in or as an independent.
Jabeen Bhatti contributed to this report.


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