Accusations of horsetrading in chairman's race center on Barry
It didn't take long for the mud to fly in the council chairman's race . In this case, like so many in the District, the controversy centers on council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8).
Former council member Vincent Orange this week accused his rival, council member Kwame Brown (D-At Large), of trading a prominent committee chairmanship for an endorsement. Orange said late Thursday that he'd heard rumors for weeks that Brown had promised Barry the Economic Development Committee post in exchange for his endorsement, an assertion Brown called "absolutely ludicrous."
Orange approached Barry Tuesday night at an event in Ward 5, and the two have different accounts of what happened next.
Orange said he "put it to him point blank," asking Barry about the committee chairman's spot and expressing disappointment that Barry was supporting Brown. In response, he says Barry told him, "it's about self-preservation."
A Barry confidant told the Wire that the former mayor had personally shared word of the alleged deal and that it was common knowledge around the Wilson building.
But Barry had a different account of his encounter with Orange. He said the topic never came up.
"I'm pissed at Vincent Orange for mischaracterizing the conversation," Barry said. "What I said to Vincent Orange is that I signed your petition because I think you ought to have a right to run in a democracy. That's all I said."
He added, "I don't have to make deals around here... I'm not a dealmaker, not for my own benefit, I'm a deal maker for the people of Ward 8."
Barry was stripped of his committee chairmanship in March after an investigation found that he'd violated conflict-of-interest rules.
To Orange, the alleged deal shows that his rival will "say anything to anybody to get what he wants when it's politically convenient."
"He's saying, 'it's ludicrous' because he got caught," Orange said.
For his part, Brown called the accusation "scare tactics." Last week, Brown said, there were rumors that he had promised Barry the Health Committee.
"It's another way to stop talking about the issues people care about, a way to use Barry as a scare tactic. It's old school politics and we have to move forward."
Brown, who is the current chairman of the Economic Development Committee, has the endorsement of eight of his council colleagues.
"What people really want to hear about are the issues," Brown said.
| June 4, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: 2010 District Election, Ann E. Marimow, D.C. Council
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