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Despite Tax Trouble, Marion Barry Bids High

D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) hasn't been able to pay his taxes on time, but that didn't stop him over the weekend from shelling out $800 for a new opera jacket for his girlfriend at an auction.

According to a tipster, Barry was at the George Washington University Cancer Gala at the Ritz Carlton Saturday when he won the jacket.

In an interview today, Barry said he bought the coat for his girlfriend "out of my own personal money." He then said he beat out CNN host Wolf Blitzer during the bidding.

"I started out bidding $700, then he bid $750," Barry said. "He couldn't get it at $750, so I bid higher."

Barry bought the jacket, which he says his girlfriend "likes very much," two weeks after federal prosecutors backed off a request that Barry be sent to jail for violating his probation on tax offenses. Instead, they are recommending that Barry be put on home confinement for 30 days and his probation should be extended for two years.

Barry was sentenced in 2006 to three years of probation for not submitting federal and D.C. tax returns. He admitted that he had not paid the bulk of the taxes on $500,000 he made from 1999 through 2004.

Barry did not file his 2007 returns until after prosecutors filed court papers in February seeking to have his probation revoked. Barry owes the federal government about $275,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties. The IRS has been taking $1,350 every two weeks from his salary since late 2006. He also had been paying the D.C. government $350 a month to pay back an undisclosed amount in taxes, interest and penalties. He did not make those payments during a recent six-month stretch, prosecutors say.

Barry said today his legal troubles shouldn't be a factor in what clothing he buys for his girlfriend.

"I don't worry about that," Barry said. "That's taken care of. My '07 taxes are paid. My '08 taxes are paid. I have a court issue, but I don't have a tax issue."

--Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  |  April 28, 2009; 12:31 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Why doesn't someone have the guts to put this man in jail. He can't pay his taxes but can buy a $800 jacket for his girlfriend. Just once I would like to see Barry go to jail...if it was you or me,we would have been locked away months ago!

Posted by: DCWatcher3 | April 28, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse


Where was your outrage when all of President Obama's cabinet nominees were found to have owed much more than
Barry and that for a much longer time? Is this a double standard?

Long live Marion Barry and may he continue to well represent Ward 8 residents!

Posted by: schooletal | April 28, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I believe that anyone that does not pay their taxes should be put in jail. Not just Barry, but anyone.No double standard. I'm tired of our public officials getting away with stuff because of their positions. And yes, I feel the same way about the people nominated for President Obama's cabinet. Our elected officials should be following the laws not trying to find ways to beat the system. For the record I think Marion Barry at one time was good for ward 8,today I feel his time has come and gone.It's time for him to retire.

Posted by: DCWatcher3 | April 28, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Of all the stories you could be posting or following up on re. missing ambulances, DC tax office, OCTO, recent firings, DCPS, summer jobs program, and other things you post this. Washington Post you make yourself look petty, small minded, and racist.

Posted by: mia_101mail | April 28, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm in agreement with mia_101mail, why is it The Washington Post believes readers are more interested in Marion Barry wasting his personal moolah, than D.C. government mismanaging the tax-payers' coffer. I watched a D.C. City Council hearing several weeks ago and the CFO testified that the infallible Department of Housing leased a shell in 2008, for its headquarters, at a whopping $1.4 million. Mind you, the agency couldn’t move into the building until 2009, which means taxpayers' were paying for two commercials bldg for DHCD headquarters for the entire year of 2008--one habitable on North Capitol St. N.E. and the other inhabitable in Anacostia, S.E.
Craig, let me recommend a better storyline for you—“The District Leases a Shell for $1.4 Million, While Proposing to Incinerate Unclaimed Bodies in 2010 to Save $35,000.” I'm willing to wager my home-delivery service of The Washington Post, that you will get more comments on my storyline than the mere handful you received on Marion Barry shopping spree.

Posted by: dcnatives | April 28, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Schooletal writes: "all of President Obama's cabinet nominees were found to have owed much more than
Barry and that for a much longer time? Is this a double standard?"

It would be if it were true. But it is not. Only two of Obama's cabinet nominees had tax problems -- Geithner and Daschle -- and one of those two didn't get the job because of it. Neither of them owed as much as Barry, and neither had violated the terms of their probation, as Barry had.

The only double standard is that Marion Barry remained free AND ON THE TAXPAYERS' PAYROLL while failing to pay his own taxes and thumbing his nose at us.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 29, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

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