Council members have finally taken the first legal steps to force some of the players in the mayor’s hiring scandal to start talking. The Council should go a step further. It should court order Mayor Gray himself to testify.
Why did Gray’s staff hire political rival Sulaimon Brown? The mayor isn’t talking. What of the allegations his team paid Brown thousands of dollars in cash to keep up campaign attacks against Adrian Fenty? Former chief of staff Lorraine Green isn’t talking, or rather she isn’t giving answers. And what of campaign consultant Howard Brooks? He has virtually disappeared, and it’s working to the advantage of Gray and his colleagues.
Brooks is the one who allegedly gave Sulaimon Brown the hard cash, and many times over. But when former chief of staff Green was asked about their relationship during a recent Council hearing, she refused to answer on advice of her lawyer. Similarly, Mayor Gray has refused to testify, saying it could interfere with a federal investigation. Some would call that a smart move on the mayor’s part. It’s also an act of defiance, and until the right legal steps are taken, it’s just going to continue.
We’re now approaching two months since Council member Mary Cheh began her hearings. Where has it gotten the residents of the District of Columbia who need to know if they can trust their mayor? Nowhere.
It’s unfair to say Cheh isn’t taking the hearings seriously. The problem is, everyone wants to save their political hides. Why won’t she simply include the mayor in a court order to testify? I wanted to ask her. Unfortunately, Mary Cheh failed to respond to two rounds of phone calls for comment.
If Vince Gray’s allegiance were to his constituents, he would step up voluntarily to testify. He shouldn’t need a judge’s order. Unfortunately, it’s become apparent it’s the only way to make him do so.
Stop using this excuse of a pending federal investigation. Gray claims to when it comes to other matters concerning the city, all in the name of District residents. Testifying in this matter would be for your residents in the here and now.
Maybe Sulaimon Brown is completely off his rocker. Maybe his claims of a pay-for-play scheme are completely bogus. Maybe Gray's former staff members were just too inept to hire the right people. If there’s nothing to hide, the mayor should testify.