- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2010

D.C. Council member Marion Barry, the Ward 8 Democrat who is a former mayor of Washington, violated city law by awarding a $15,000 contract to his then-girlfriend, according to findings in an independent investigation released Tuesday.

The seven-page summary by attorney Robert S. Bennett states Mr. Barry’s original proposal was for Donna Watts-Brighthaupt to write a proposal for a program titled “Emerging Leaders of Ward Eight.” When the city rejected the proposal because it appeared “political in nature,” the report states, Mr. Barry won approval for one on poverty, then had Ms. Brighthaupt work on the original proposal.

In addition, the report says Mr. Barry, 73, on several occasions delivered checks to Ms. Brighthaupt, accompanied her to the bank to cash the checks and then made her give him some of the money.

Ms. Brighthaupt said she gave Mr. Barry several hundred to thousands of dollars, according to the report.

Mr. Barry has said he insisted on being repaid for money he gave Ms. Brighthaupt to help her with a mortgage, car repairs and other bills.

Ms. Brighthaupt has said she thought the money was a gift. Mr. Barry has said he could not recall how much he received. He has acknowledged going to the bank with Ms. Brighthaupt but “insists” he did not ask her to repay him from the contract checks, the report states.

Mr. Barry served four terms as mayor. In his third, he was videotaped in 1990 in a hotel room smoking crack cocaine in an FBI sting. He served six months in prison.

The findings Tuesday are part of larger investigation on contracts and grants related to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and the 13-member D.C. Council.

They follow an July 2009 incident in which Mr. Barry was charged with stalking Ms. Brighthaupt as their relationship ended. The U.S. Attorney’s Office decided not to pursue the misdemeanor charge.

In fiscal 2009, the District budget included nearly $48 million in city council and mayoral earmark grants, according to the investigation’s findings.

Mr. Barry had the most grants, 41, totaling $8.48 million.

The report also states Mr. Barry tried to impede the investigation by refusing to answer questions and advising witnesses to withhold documents and information subpoenaed by the special council.

Mr. Barry could not be reached for comment.

In 1992, Mr. Barry returned to D.C. politics by winning a seat on the D.C. Council, and two years later he again was elected mayor.

But Mr. Barry’s legal woes didn’t stop. He was given three years of probation in 2006 after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges for failing to file his tax returns from 1999 to 2004.

He was stopped in the District in 2006 by police accusing him of a traffic violation. Officers said they smelled alcohol and gave him a Breathalyzer test, which Mr. Barry disputed. A judge later acquitted him in the case.

Despite his legal troubles, Mr. Barry remains popular in Ward 8, the Southeast district he represents. After retiring from politics in 1998, the Democrat ran again for the D.C. Council in 2004 and won with 96 percent of the vote. He won re-election in November with 92 percent of the vote.

• Joseph Weber can be reached at jweber@washingtontimes.com.old.

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