Catania Calls for IG Probe into Ward 8 Grants
D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At large) is calling for the Office of the Inspector General to investigate allegations that Marion Barry has directed taxpayer money to organizations that appear run by members of his staff.
Catania's referral follows an article over the weekend in the Washington City Paper that Barry (Ward 8) secured nearly $1 million for six groups in June 2008 that did not formally exist at the time.
The groups - the Ward 8 Education Council , the Ward 8 Workforce Development Council , the Ward 8 Health Council , the Ward 8 Youth Leadership Council, Clean and Sober, and Clean and Green -- registered with the city in October 2008.
The paper also reported that Barry's senior staff appeared to oversee the creation of the groups, and in at least two cases the signatures on the incorporation papers appeared to be fraudulent.
Catania was scheduled to have an oversight hearing today on the issue. Despite the media gathered in the committee room, Catania announced he was putting off the hearing to allow the Inspector General to take over the probe.
Sharon Wise, who told the City Paper her signature was forged on one of groups incorporation papers, headed up the Clean and Sober organization. Wise, who said Barry asked her to head up the group, was scheduled to testify in front of Catania.
"These accusations are extremely serious and should be reviewed," Catania said. "Given the timing of some of the information, the committee is not prepared to delve into this matter this afternoon. In fact, given these allegations, I believe these matters are better reviewed by the Inspector General in their entirety."
According to Catania, Wise said questions about the organizations' finances had to go through Brenda Richardson, listed on Barry's website as his deputy chief of staff for community engagement.
"What is clearly alleged...is that all of Mr. Barry's grant recipients and fiscal agents recognized Ms. Richardson as the ultimate administrator of the Council grant money, and that her orders allegedly came from Mr. Barry," said Catania.
Barry declined comment today, saying he only learned of the City Paper story today.
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