- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Republican congressman with oversight of D.C. affairs said Thursday that he was “deeply concerned” about recent allegations against Mayor Vincent C. Gray and his committee will investigate.

Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the investigation comes after members of his staff were rebuffed in their efforts to get basic information from Mr. Gray’s staff about allegations that cash payoffs were made during Mr. Gray’s mayoral campaign.

“I asked my investigative staff to gather some basic information to determine if the District of Columbia would be able to swiftly and fairly evaluate the merit of these charges and take necessary action if appropriate,” Mr. Issa said.

“Committee investigators have spoken with individuals inside and outside the District government and have made unsuccessful attempts to interview key figures close to the mayor, including his former chief of staff. The initial findings of these efforts do not give me confidence that the District government can make this evaluation. As such, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee has begun a full investigation to determine the facts and will report its findings.”

The allegations revolve around former mayoral contender Sulaimon Brown, who received a $110,000-a-year job at the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance after bashing incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty during the campaign and then was fired when questions surfaced about his past.

Mr. Brown’s firing prompted more questions on why he was hired in the first place, leading to accusations by Mr. Brown that Gray campaign consultant Howard L. Brooks and Lorraine Green, Mr. Gray’s campaign manager, had paid him to stay in the race and had promised him a job.

On Wednesday, Mr. Gray fired his chief of staff, Gerri Mason Hall, saying the controversy had become a “distraction.” Mr. Issa said Ms. Hall was among the Gray staffers his investigators attempted to interview.

Mr. Gray’s office issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying the mayor “welcomes any investigation into the matter.”

“Mayor Gray believes that there are sufficient investigative bodies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, addressing and responding to Mr. Brown’s allegations. Congressional involvement is not likely to illuminate any additional issues or information,” the statement said.

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