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D.C. Left To Wonder: Was Sulaimon Brown Telling The Truth About Gray Campaign?

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Former D.C. mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown at a council hearing in March, where he was not a witness.
Patrick Madden
Former D.C. mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown at a council hearing in March, where he was not a witness.

There have been four days of hearings, a dozen or so witnesses, and hundreds of uncovered emails.

And yet there has been no clear determination on one point: Is Sulaimon Brown telling the truth?

The question hangs over the Wilson Building these days.

Brown, a former mayoral candidate, claims he was paid cash and promised a job by the Gray campaign for his help during the 2010 race.

Once Gray came into office, Brown was hired as a special assistant in the city's Department of Health Care Finance for a salary of $110,000 per year. He was fired Feb. 24 after the hiring practices of the Gray administration came into question.

Gray says he told Brown he could interview for a job in his administration, but that's it.

"I promised him an interview, he asked for an interview and I told him and I said it repeatedly," says Gray. "The interview was conducted by others."

But D.C. Council members leading the investigation into the hiring say it looks like Brown was promised more than that.

"It has all the earmarks of a promise of a job," says Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh. "Now, I know this a parsing of this -– that it's a promise of an interview -- but the circumstances are such that it looks like the promise may have been more robust than that."

Council member David Catania says testimony from Gray’s closest advisors and emails uncovered as part of the investigation show the transition team and former Gray chief of staff Gerri Mason Hall went to great lengths to help Brown land a job in the administration.

"He did not interview with the agency head," says Catania. "His resume was unknown he was simply placed by Gerri Hall by her own admission at a salary that he himself identified without a position being identified."

Brown's other allegation is that two Gray campaign aides, Lorraine Green and Howard Brooks, made cash payments to him during the race.

Green, testifying before the council, flatly denied the claim. Brooks didn't testify, citing his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. Catania asked Green if she ever talked with Brooks about the cash payment allegations.

"Upon advice of counsel, the discussions I've had with Mr. Brooks we feel may intrude on the investigation," Green said.

The scheduled hearings wrapped up May 13, but the U.S. Attorney's office is also investigating the allegations in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The D.C. Council could return to the matter when federal investigators complete their probe.

Both witnesses from the Gray administration and members of the council have questioned Sulaimon Brown's credibility. He has been called "delusional" by several Gray officials. Others note his past legal troubles.

Of course, each new strike against Brown raises more questions about why he was hired in the first place. Given that he never showed up for the council hearings investigating the matter -- despite finally being subpoenaed to appear -- the public might never know the real story.

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