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Graham, Orange Defend Vote Against Censure Of Marion Barry

The decision whether to censure Council member Marion Barry and how has divided the D.C. Council.
Larry Miller: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drmillerlg/1246397248/
The decision whether to censure Council member Marion Barry and how has divided the D.C. Council.

Two D.C. council members are defending their vote not to punish Marion Barry for accepting cash payments from city contractors.

For the second time in three years, the D.C. Council is poised to strip Marion Barry of his committee chairmanship for violating the city's ethics rules.

Barry accepted nearly $7,000 in cash from a pair of city contractors. The ethics board fined Barry and last week the D.C. Council voted to censure Barry and recommended stripping him of his committee assignment.

Nine members supported the punishment and the four who opposed it have come under criticism. But in a letter to the Washington Post, Council members Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Vincent Orange (D-At Large) say they weren't voting to support Barry; rather, they were worried about following the city's ethics laws. The pair argue that two of the Council members voting to strip Barry of his committee assignment—David Grosso (I-At Large) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large)—could ultimately benefit by taking over Barry's committee.

The Post'd editorial board responded today, writing that Graham and Orange's claims didn't hold water.

"Neither Mr. Grosso nor Ms. Bonds asked to be on the ad hoc committee, and it was not an easy task, particularly for Ms. Bonds, who enjoys a long friendship with Mr. Barry, to recommend action against the popular former mayor. If indeed there is to be a change in committee assignments — and we hope there will be — it would come only after the full body votes on a recommendation from council chairman Phil Mendelson (D)," wrote the editorial board.

Along with Barry, Orange and Graham are the only other Council members who have been scolded by the ethics board.

The vote to formally remove Barry from the committee is expected to take place next month.

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