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Gray, Nickles Spar Over Settlement

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By Patrick Madden

The controversy surrounding a firm with close ties to Mayor Adrian Fenty and its contract to help build city parks and rec centers is becoming a campaign issue. Mayoral hopeful and D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray says the city's attorney general should be fired after helping broker a settlement between the city and the firm under investigation.

Gray says the $550,000 settlement between the city and Banneker Ventures, a firm owned by a Fenty friend and fraternity brother and currently under investigation by a special investigator, "betrayed the public's trust."

"And rather than reach a settlement agreement which potentially undermines the investigation, he certainly should've waited, and that's not the only thing, he's injected himself politically into these campaigns by certainly making comments about me," says Gray.

He also says Nickles, the city's top lawyer, has become the mayor's "political hatchet man" and an enabler of "cronyism."

The attorney general, meanwhile, says it's Gray who's playing politics.

Nickles dismisses the allegations. He says the mayor had no knowledge of the settlement and he calls the chairman's statements "trumped up charges in the middle of the campaign."

"And when I get attacked by unfounded statements, I'm not going to sit here and let 45 years of professional experience sit in silence and take that kind of baloney," says Nickles.

Later today, five council members, not including Gray, will meet to discuss the settlement.

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