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There’s been a couple of clues in recent days that the feds are taking the Sulaimon Brown investigation seriously. First came the abrupt end of Lorraine Green‘s testimony to a D.C. Council committee on Friday. Green, a close confidante of Mayor Vince Gray, wouldn’t answer the committee’s question on whether she’d spoken to former campaign aide Howard Brooks about the Sulaimon case. Brown has accused both Green and Brooks of giving him cash in exchange for staying in last year’s mayoral race and attacking then-Mayor Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail. (Everyone involved has denied any wrongdoing.)
Green’s attorney told the council he didn’t want his client to say anything in public that might hamper the investigation currently being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The council agreed, and let Green’s testimony end with the understanding that she is to answer the committee’s questions once the USAO’s investigation is complete.
The next clue was Gray appearance today on WTOP’s “Ask the Mayor” segment with host Mark Segraves. Gray told Segraves he had not been interviewed by any federal investigators, but he’d voluntarily turned over copies of his emails and phone records. Gray didn’t say when he’d turned over the records.
And a source close to the Gray administration tells LL that last month the USAO subpoenaed all the background checks and communications the Gray transition had with the firm it hired to vet potential candidates. The Gray transition paid $1,500 for a deep background check of Brown some time in December, recently released internal emails show. Brown, who was placed at the Department of Health Care Finance in a $110,000-a-year auditing job without an interview at that department, didn’t start working for the city until the second half of January. (Former Gray chief of staff Gerri Mason Hall says she placed Brown at the agency in order to keep him from hanging around and nagging the mayor. Brown says besides the cash he was promised a job, but the Gray team has always maintained he was only promised an interview.)
When Brown’s accusations first landed on the front page of the Sunday Post in early March, the USAO announced it was “assessing” the situation. Since then, the feds have been pretty tight-lipped about what’s going on, and one might have reasonably wondered whether they “assessed” that Brown was a bit kooky and they a) didn’t believe him or b) didn’t want him to be their star witness in what would be a high-profile case.
But it certainly looks like there is lot more than assessing going on at present. LL has a call in with the USAO’s spokesman and will update as needed.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery