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Last June, when Mayor Anthony A. Williams left his $118,000 post as D.C.’s chief financial officer (CFO) to blaze the campaign trail, he made a big show of the chance he was taking by giving up a solid job for a shot at politics.
These days, he has other reasons to make the situation sound dire. Pressed to explain the $42,000 he earned in previously undisclosed consulting deals with NationsBank and Arthur Andersen & Co., Williams has said he resorted to the extra work to “put bread on the table” for himself and his wife, Diane Simmons Williams.
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Even without Williams’ hefty salary, the two would hardly have been forced to line up at local soup kitchens to get a decent meal. At the time of the campaign, the then-candidate’s wife was bringing home enough bacon to keep both well-fed. Since September 1996, she has been vice president for finance and administration at the Greater Washington Urban League, a local nonprofit that pays her $61,800 a year, according to financial documents the organization filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
And even during the most grueling of the campaign months, the two managed to maintain their stay at the two-bedroom condo they rent at Foggy Bottom’s Potomac Plaza Apartments. According to spokesperson Peggy Armstrong, the mayor would not comment on how much he pays in monthly rent. But Jim Lardner, a sales associate with Pardoe ERA, says rental rates in Foggy Bottom buildings, which include posh digs like the Watergate, can run up to $2,500 a month. When the Williamses started renting their apartment two years ago, he adds, the monthly rate was likely about $1,800; it could have gone up since.
Despite the income and comfortable living arrangements, Armstrong insists that the campaign days were rough for the two. Simmons Williams owns a 1995 Honda and a condo in St. Louis that she currently rents to tenants, but other than that, the couple has few assets. Williams sold the 4-by-4 truck he drove while CFO long before the campaign started, says Armstrong, and relied on public transportation before becoming mayor and getting a chauffeur.
“This is just about two people making ends meet on a day-to-day basis,” says Armstrong. CP