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D.C. Legislators Express Dismay Over Most Recent Scandal

Brown, pictured here taking a bribe from undercover federal agents, will serve 37 months in prison.
Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C.
Brown, pictured here taking a bribe from undercover federal agents, will serve 37 months in prison.

The latest corruption scandal at D.C. City Hall has council members again pledging to restore the public trust in local government. One day after former Council member Michael Brown pleaded guilty to accepting bribes, his old colleagues are speaking out.

Council Member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) says he understands why residents are, in his words, disappointed and disgusted.

"There is a perpetual dark cloud hanging over District politics. To deny that is to deny reality. I don't know what you do outside of what I try to do, which is to hold my self to the highest standards of personal integrity," he said.

McDuffie, elected in 2012 after former Council member Harry Thomas, Jr. pleaded guilty to stealing $350,000 in city funds and resigned his seat, said that individual legislators have to assure constituents that they are staying on the right side of the law.

"They most certainly should expect that a person elected to office conducts themselves in a manner that does not invite FBI investigations. That we hold positions of public trust and that that actually means something. It means that we are public servants, not self servants," he said.

McDuffie has been tasked with figuring out how to reform D.C.'s campaign finance laws—a troubled system that has been the source of several scandals.

Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6)—now running for mayor—says elected officials need to do a better job of holding their colleagues accountable.

"There is a culture of corruption in our elected government. And this is another example of that. I don't think the council has taken this crisis seriously. We passed a weak ethics bill and I think there are more shoes to drop," he said.

Mayor Vincent Gray so far has declined to comment on Brown's guilty plea.

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