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Campaign Manager: Barry's Ex-Girlfriend 'Didn't Do Any Work'

Marion Barry's former campaign manager said today that he is furious the council member used campaign funds last year to pay his former girlfriend a $500 contracting fee.

Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, who is at the center of recent stalking charges against Barry, has been telling reporters she worked as a political consultant on his 2008 re-election campaign. Campaign finance records show the Barry for Ward 8 Committee paid Watts-Brighthaupt $500 on Oct. 29. The two were romantically involved at the time.

Joe Louis Ruffin Jr., the campaign manager, said in an interview today that "she didn't do any work." He was stunned to learn she had been paid.

"If she was a political consultant, and I was the campaign manager, one would think I would have known she was working for me, and I would know she was getting paid and how much she was getting paid," Ruffin said. "I saw her one time at a fundraiser, and another time she was riding in the passenger seat of his BMW."

Ruffin, a veteran strategist, became estranged from Barry after his primary win because of a dispute over money.

Ruffin noted that Barry paid Watts-Brighhaupt in late October -- six weeks after the primary. Barry did not face a serious opponent in the general election.

"There was no work to do in the general," Ruffin said.

Barry declined to speak to reporters today. But the $500 payment to Watts-Brighthaupt from Barry's campaign occurred one week after Barry hired her as a $5,000-a-month contractor to his taxpayer-funded council office.

At a press conference last night, Barry spokeswoman Natalie Williams said Barry gave Watts-Brighthaupt the city contract because the financially strapped Watts-Brighthaupt "was about to lose her house, her car, due to her inability to find employment."

"It totally (upsets) me ... that he would take $500 from the campaign and give it to someone who did not work in the primary," Ruffin said. "There are people out there who I know who didn't receive their just money, who worked all summer long."

Watts-Brighthaupt was unavailable to comment today.

-- Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  |  July 8, 2009; 3:24 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Mayor for Life and his crooked ways.... man of the people in ward 8.... he is robbing you blind and laughing all the way. but, you all think he does no wrong and he is "Mayor for life". So glad I live so far away from the city.

Posted by: rvanags | July 8, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

This is simply unbelievable!! Barry gave his girlfriend campaign funds and she had no visible job at the campaign? How could this happen in Washington, D.C.???

I still say Barry needs to resign and do a cable show with Cynthia McKinney. In the first ten minutes, Barry advises callers on how to handle their income taxes. In the second ten minutes, McKinney entertains callers who hate Jews. In the last ten minutes, they run the Michael Jackson funeral circus over and over, with commentary provided by both.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | July 8, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

So over the last year, one of our 13 Council Members has failed to file his taxes, lied to a judge about filing his taxes in order to take a Caribbean holiday, been arrested for stalking on Independence Day, used campaign funds for his new girlfriend, and put her on his official payroll. We have been given Home Rule, but this man is a disgrace demonstrating that the District may have been given too much credit.

If we are to demonstrate the legitimacy of this government, particularly if greater autonomy is to be granted one day, the citizens of the District need to police its elected officials. No longer should this man be allowed to make a public mockery at our expense. Impeachment, censure, conviction - someone must show that we are not a fledging Third World democracy plagued by corrupt leaders for life.

Posted by: Inconnu | July 8, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I guarantee Mr. Barry will be providing us with some good bible reading to help us understand this situation.

Posted by: fide | July 8, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

This matter now rises to the level of fraud. What will it take to send this man to jail?

What will it take to have the DC Council jettison this corrupt member?

Until this man is shamed, removed from office, and locked up, ethics will have no meaning in DC government.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | July 8, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Allowing Marion to spend public money is like allowing Roman Polanski to coach girl's gymnastics.

Posted by: ajlerner1 | July 8, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Marion Barry can stay in ward 8 forever! WAKE UP Ward 8, cant you see that you need a change in leadership! How many excuses are you going to give him?

Posted by: dogface5 | July 8, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Is South Carolina now a "fledgling Third World democracy," too? One would hope that elected officials would uphold the laws and ethics of the government they were elected to lead. However, the legitimacy of a government is not dependant on the behavior of its elected officials -- government by the people for the people is a right.

Posted by: MaggieinBrookland | July 8, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

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