Nickles takes public aim at Gray's DHS record
Attorney General Peter Nickles, long known as Mayor Adrian Fenty's prime governmental attack dog, is emerging as an aggressive surrogate for Fenty (D) on the campaign trail.
In a morning interview with NewsChannel 8's Bruce DePuyt, Nickles unleashed fierce criticism of Gray's early-'90s management record as the city's human services director. "When you look at it, it's not very nice," he said, detailing setbacks in the child welfare and mental health agencies that Gray (D) oversaw from 1991 to 1994.
Nickles and Gray share roots that extend much deeper than their current stints as attorney general and council chairman. Nickles was hailed in a 1994 Post article as "dean of the public interest lawyers" involved in suits filed against the city -- including one challenging the mental health services administered by Gray's department in the early '90s.
"That was an era [when federal courts] continually said, 'What the District of Columbia is doing is outrageous,' " Nickles said. He continued: "That is the only time, I think, that the chairman has said I acted as an executive within the political structure. ... [W]e ended up with more court orders and more of these findings. ... [T]hat was not a good time for the individuals we served."
Gray campaign spokeswoman Traci Hughes raised questions about whether it was appropriate for Nickles to address such a politically fraught issue. "The last time I checked it was the attorney general's role to serve District residents and not to carry out Mayor Fenty's political attacks," Hughes said Monday afternoon. She accused Nickles of "campaigning effectively while he's on the clock" -- a potential violation of legal restrictions on the political activities of government employees.
Nickles told me in a telephone conversation he's "willing to respond to questions on which I have personal knowledge," adding that the questions about Gray's DHS tenure are to him a "very particular situation, a very personal situation."
He added: "When people ask me what my personal views are, what am I supposed to say? That I can't get involved? That I can't say what I think?"
I asked Nickles what his impression of Gray had been during those years. He didn't shy away from reiterating what's become a Fenty campaign theme: "I thought he was thoughtful and I thought he was very, very deliberate -- deliberate to a point where nothing got done. I thought those traits served him very, very well in the legislature. But in the executive, you've got to make things work, and they didn't."
Nickles also noted that Gray invited the scrutiny: "I'm speaking out as a citizen who was right in the middle of it," he said. "The chairman has said, 'Let's get it on.' Well ... "
Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post
June 28, 2010; 3:09 PM ET
Categories: Adrian Fenty , DCision 2010 , The District , Vincent Gray
Save & Share: Previous: DeMorning DeBonis: June 28, 2010
Next: D.C. gun suit could herald an 'avalanche' of litigation
Posted by: concernedaboutdc | June 28, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ashafer_usa | June 28, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: nan_lynn | June 28, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: thelildiva4u | June 28, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: thelildiva4u | June 28, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: fivetogo | June 28, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: fivetogo | June 28, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dcchamp1 | June 28, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: lacairaine | June 28, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tacard1 | June 28, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: candycane1 | June 28, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mamaspearl | June 28, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: 20009matt | June 28, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: DCJUSTICE | June 28, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ssmd11 | June 28, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: southyrndiva | June 29, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jamietre | July 1, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.