Sadly this is an instance where the real scandal, fraud, gets overshadowed by the sex scandal. Perhaps the entire July 4 sex scandal was a smokescreen for a hearing on non-profit funding to be held by Councilmember David Catania on Monday.
In the City Paper article, it is alleged (with significant documentation) that Barry's office funneled city funds into non-profits that were set up by Barry staffers and micromanaged by Barry and his staff. This violates all sorts of laws and ethics regulations. These non-profits, for the most part, seem to have been set up simply as a way to employ people Barry wanted to employ. It is very unclear what, if anything, these organizations do.
I suggest everyone go and read the entire article. It's not an easy read, and it's not exactly easy to follow. But it's important. This is not a joke, this is not a case of someone out to get Barry. This is a culture of corruption. It's not surprising and we all knew it was happening, but now there is a good deal of proof. Everyone jokes that the District government is a joke, but at some point the laughing has to stop and the clean-up needs to begin.
Implicated, at the least, in this story are the following people:
- Councilmember Marion Barry
- Brenda Richardson, from Barry's office
- Eric Goulet, Council Chair Vincent Gray's budget director
- Justin Constantino, Eric Goulet's deputy
This scheme, of Barry-controlled non-profits, appears to have been run by Richardson. Documents were allegedly forged, including incorporation documents. Eric Goulet and Justin Constantino were directed to sort this whole mess out. When they were told that Barry was directing the operations of some non-profits, they reportedly said they were "not hearing that."
Will we see any outrage? Is this too complicated for the average citizen to be outraged about? Not only does this stink because it is fraud, but it's terrible because this is a time when actual, real non-profits are struggling. The $450,000 paid out, and the almost $1 million earmarked for these bogus groups could be used by real organizations doing real things for the residents of not only Ward 8 but the rest of the District.
This all comes after Barry reportedly makes a private apology to the DC Council for the arrest-saga, while refusing to apologize to the public. He and his office also continue to refuse to comment on any of these funding irregularities.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars funneled to your own interest groups. City money. Taxpayer money. This, when the city can't bridge a budget gap and can't fund safety improvements for Metro. We need more people like Mike DeBonis to take a look at the rest of the District budget. Where else is money being lost to fraud, theft, and cronyism.
I hate to use this line of thinking, but it is true. If we're ever going to make the case that we deserve more voting rights, we have to get our house in order.