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For a week, Washington forgot about O.J. and fixated instead on the allegations brought by housekeeper Barbara Mouring that Cora Barry had laundered money through Mouring’s son. The scandal is part of an emerging pattern: In the past 100 days, multiple ethical lapses by the Barrys and their allies have already been noted, reported, and all-to-quickly forgotten. But the pattern of arrogance and misconduct stretches way, way back. For just as the supposed $2,000 payoff to Cora’s brother reminds us that she pled guilty of defrauding the city of $2,000-plus while serving as its boxing commissioner, her husband’s recent shenanigans are a reminder that, for all his talk of redemption, Marion Barry really hasn’t changed. An abridged look at our ethically challenged mayor, then and now:
California Dreaming March 1995: Responding to a “family emergency,” Cora and Marion Barry fly to California to attend Oscar-related events. Barry, apparently searching for a justification to write off (or bill taxpayers for) his trip, chats with L.A. City Council President John Ferraro about the District for 40 minutes. Ferraro says that if that meeting was the reason Barry came to L.A., it was “a wasted trip.”
January 1987: Record snowfall blankets D.C. while the mayor is in L.A. at the Superbowl. Barry is admitted to a L.A. hospital for excessive partying, though he tells the media he had a hernia flare-up. Once released, he refuses to return to D.C., saying his aides can deal with the snow-bound city.
Home Improvement March 1995: As uncollected garbage fills in the city’s streets and alleys, Department of Public Works employees—who obscure the departmental logo on their uniforms and truck—unload mulch and spread it on the mayor’s flower beds.
January 1995: Retired police officer Fred Gaskins, a former member of Barry’s security detail who supposedly threatened Barbara Mouring, wins a no-bid contract to build a brick fence around the mayor’s house. Cora Barry initially says that fence will be paid for by private donations; Marion Barry later assures the public that he and his wife will pick up the tab.
1980: Marion and wife No. 3 Effi get a mortgage at 3.25 points below the going rate from the Federal Savings and Loan Association, a bank that was Effi’s employer and was run by Barry supporter William Fitzgerald. Barry later awards Fitzgerald and fellow investors development rights to Gallery Place for $14 million below fair market value.
Homes Away From Home December 1994: For two days, the Barrys celebrate their anniversary in a $2,500-a-night Mayflower hotel suite, guarded by the 12-person mayoral security force and nine extra cops.
1986-87: Reporters discover that Barry has been using the Constituents Services Fund, the “Ceremonial Fund,” and various other pots of cash to pay for more than $100,000 in travel expenses.
It Hurts You More Than It Hurts Me 1995: In the wake of the city’s fiscal crisis, Barry promises to take a 20-percent pay-cut. He subsequently revises that figure to 15 percent, then 10, then 5. Current mayoral salary: unknown.
1980: Right before ordering a freeze on city promotions and hirings, Barry gives raises to his top five aides. He eliminates all city chauffeurs, except his (two full-time and one part-time). Barry claims firing his drivers would be inefficient since he does “a lot of work in the car.”
Prêt à Porter 1994: Barry buys his trademark Kente-lapeled suits at a deep discount, but does not report it on his campaign finance forms.
1987-88: Effi Barry buys a fur coat on layaway, but fails to pay her bill. A Barry employee cuts a city check for the coat. When the scandal breaks, the wife of mega-lobbyist David Wilmot reimburses the city for the coat.
Money for Something 1994: Boxing promoter Rock Newman tells the Washington Post he spent $50,000 to help Barry get elected, though the donation is not recorded on Barry’s campaign finance forms. The Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) fails to investigate. Newman is now the front-runner to become the minority partner in the arena deal.
1985: Using a dummy corporation to shield the deal, developer Jeffrey Cohen makes Barry a 10 percent partner in a $1 million building. (In a complicated transaction a few months earlier, Cohen had manipulated the city to bail him out to the tune of $12.5 million.) Barry then puts a bill before the council to float a $9 million bond for another Cohen real estate project. In 1989, OCF fined Barry $500 for failing to disclose his financial relationship with Cohen.