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That must have been one heck of a party. It’s taken a while—like an entire year—but LL finally has the exact tally for how much Mayor Vince Gray spent on his inaugural ball. The cost for the party: $714,575. And that’s even with cash bars.
You may recall that Gray promised transparency and disclosure when it came to divulging the donors and expenses of his transition and inauguration fund. You may also recall that Gray has had a hard time living up to that promise. In January, Gray released a list detailing some of the inauguration/transition fund donors. In March, the Post badgered the fund’s director Reuben Charles (remember that guy?) for details on how the money was spent. Charles provided only a partial list, which included the nugget that Team Gray paid $126,931 to put temporary carpet down at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the ball.
Sometime last spring, Gray ordered an audit of his transition/inauguration fund and promised to release the results once they were complete. Today, enfin, the Gray administration allowed LL to take a look at said audit, which was done by Benjamin and Associates, a Maryland-(gasp!)-based accounting firm. The audit doesn’t provide much in the way of details. It shows that the inauguration/transition fund raised $988,805 and spent $960,089 as of March 31. There’s no list of donors (though the Gray administration says that info should be coming by the middle of next month) and there’s no real accounting for how the money was spent. Instead, there’s a broad list of 20 expenditure categories, including “Inaugural Expenses: $714,575.” Talk about useless, Charles provided more info to the Post back in March:
Charles said the team paid Centerplate, a caterer, $271,900 for the event, which drew several thousand guests. In addition to the $50,000 rental fee for the space, the transition team paid $126,931 to Hargrove, a special events contractor, which apparently installed temporary carpeting.
But it is unclear how the transition team spent other funds related to the inaugural celebration.
It made a $50,000 payment to Black Entertainment Television, which Charles said helped organize performances by Chuck Brown, Raheem DeVaughn, the Style Band and the Yvonne Johnson Trio.
Charles also listed $309,540 for “concert support services” but did not specify which company or companies received the funds.
Digging through the archives, LL found that former Mayor Adrian Fenty spent $500,000 on his inaugural ball and was also less than forthcoming about who funded the shindig. Former Mayor Anthony Williams‘ inaugural celebrations after he was re-elected in 2002 appear to have only cost $216,005.
Other expenses from the practically useless audit:
- Background checks: $33,595
- Bank fees: $83
- Consulting communications: $38,760
- Fundraising: $1,806
- Website development: $6,368
Photo by Matt Dunn