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Campaign Finance Office to Investigate Brown Allegations

Dorothy Rowley | 3/8/2011, 8:50 p.m.

Two months in to his administration, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's tenure has been marked by scandal, resulting in his call for a prompt and thorough investigation over claims that his campaign paid former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown to continue attacks on then-Mayor Adrian Fenty, in exchange for a job if Gray won the mayoral race.

"It's embarrassing that this matter has had ability to erode the good will that Vincent Gray has brought to the office," said Michael Fauntroy, a George Mason University professor who specializes in political matters. "If some of the allegations turn out to be true, [Gray] will end up losing some of the people who were willing to give him the benefit of a doubt. "

Brown, 40, who landed a $110,000-a-year auditor's job with the District's Department of Health Care Finance in early February, lost it a couple weeks later after At-large Councilman David Catania began expressing grave dissatisfaction with Brown being in the post.

Gray,68, as well as his campaign staff have denied knowledge of any payments to Brown. Although cell phone records for Brown that were documented from June and mid-September reportedly show nearly 30 calls from numbers associated with Gray, the mayor has maintained that he only agreed to get Brown a job interview.

Brown claimed in earlier reports that after vacating the mayoral race, he threw support behind Gray by repeatedly denouncing Fenty's leadership during public rallies.

Brown, who was dismissed from his job on Feb. 24, then crashed a press conference where Gray was announcing his departure. Brown went to the Washington Post this past weekend with a list of allegations, including that he funneled some of the money he received from Gray's coffers for use in his own campaign using fake names.

The Office of Campaign Finance is conducting the investigation. In addition, because the City Council lacks a committee to look into the matter, "Chairman [Kwame] Brown has written a letter to the inspector general asking him to investigate," At-large Councilman Phil Mendelson told the Washington Informer.

In the meantime, Gray is trying to put the scandal behind him by moving forward with the possible intention of naming interim schools chancellor, Kaya Henderson, as a permanent replacement for Michelle Rhee who resigned in October.