Former Washington, D.C. mayoral aide Sulaimon Brown said April 8 he is eager to tell Congress and Justice Department investigators how D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray runs the city.

But on April 8 he told the AFRO he won’t talk about his allegations of corruption by the mayor to the D.C. Council, even if subpoenaed by Councilwoman Mary Cheh’s office to testify.

“The Council really doesn’t want me down there to testify. My testimony might incriminate some of them,” Brown, 40, told the AFRO.

He said that the council members conducting inquiries into the mayor’s behavior engage in the same behavior that they are investigating.

Brown walked out of a D.C. Council hearing conducted by Councilwoman Cheh about the mayor April 7, contending that the two councilmembers scrutinizing the mayor—Cheh and at-large member David Catania–are involved in the cronyism that Brown says is rife in the Gray administration.

However, he said he believes the congressional and FBI investigations have more clout and credibility.

Following his abrupt dismissal shortly after being posted as special assistant to the mayor in the Department of Health Finance, Brown publicly accused D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray of being directly involved in a pay-to-play scheme during the mayoral campaign.

Brown alleged that Gray sent cash payments to him by two of Gray’s top aides and promised Brown a lucrative position in his administration for attacking former Mayor Adrian Fenty during the 2010 mayoral campaign.

His eagerness to speak out publicly after his dismissal in February has caught the attention of investigators with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as well as the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office. But neither the committee nor the Justice Department will comment on the matter.

“I have no intention of participating in Mary Cheh’s witch hunt. She has already gone on record with media making negative statements about my character. Cheh is nothing but another crony of Vincent Gray. She is attempting to help him by fixing the investigation to satisfy her constituents who are angry at her for being associated with Gray in the first place,” said Brown.

A spokesman with Cheh’s office said the subpoena has been prepared but has not been signed or issued.

Cheh has held two hearings to find out more about Mayor Gray’s hiring practices.

“Cheh is involved in the same unethical practices as Gray. Cheh was going to give a job to a friend of mine herself. She gave me her cell number and told my friend to ask for her chief of staff. We spoke over the phone about it. But my friend found another job and did not pursue the opportunity,” Brown said.

Brown also said when he met privately with the councilwoman last week, she denied Brown’s assertions.

“We will subpoena Mr. Brown. If he wants he can put this on the record. It’s just absurd,” said David Zvenyach, Cheh’s chief of staff.

Cheh and several other council members grilled former Gray staffers about the manner in which they were hired as well as how they employed other administrators. Brown said several of the council members should recuse themselves.

“I also believe it’s illegal for Councilman David Catania (I-At-Large) to question anyone in the council’s investigation because he is a witness himself in the investigation. He has also called me a criminal. So why should I testify before someone who already has his mind made up,” said Brown.

Brown explained it was Catania who threatened to block the confirmation of Wayne Turnage to be director of the Department of Health Finance, “if he did not terminate my employment.”

“Turnage told me that Catania told him if he didn’t let me go he would not confirm him as director for the agency,” said Brown.

Turnage, at his confirmation hearing on Feb. 25, denied that he made the remark. Catania’s office also claimed there was no validity to the allegation.

Ben Young, public information officer for Catania, said the councilman had a conversation with the director on Feb. 23, one day prior to Brown’s dismissal and briefly mentioned Brown’s upcoming appointment. However, Young said the councilman did not instruct the director to terminate Brown.
 

 

Valencia Mohammed

Special to the AFRO