In Brandon Webb’s version of events, he sure got screwed by District politics.
The son of Rochelle Webb, who was recently fired as acting director of the Department of Employment Services, Brandon Webb spent a few short weeks doing community outreach work for new Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe.
Webb says he was working in Arizona earlier this year when he got a call from his mom that she might be able to get him a job and he should send her his résumé. (Rochelle Webb says former interim Department of Human Resources Director Judy Banks facilitated Brandon’s hiring; Banks said under oath last week that she did not help Brandon get a job, and it was Ellerbe who requested Brandon come work for him.)
The day after he sent his résumé to his mom, Brandon Webb says, she called back and said he’d been hired to work at the fire department. The catch: Ellerbe needed him to start pronto.
Webb says he was excited about getting the new gig.
“Two days after I sent my résumé over, I was loading up my mother’s car that was in Phoenix and driving out to D.C.,” Webb says.
Webb’s roadtrip began on Friday. He got to D.C. on Monday and started work on Tuesday.
Webb says he was never interviewed for the job. That doesn’t square with what fire department spokesman Lon Walls says. In an email, Walls says “several candidates were recommended to Chief Ellerbe, among them was Brandon Webb. Chief Ellerbe interviewed the candidates and determined that Brandon was the most qualified.”
Webb says his job included keeping tabs on media reports, coordinating interactions between Ellerbe and councilmembers, and staffing Ellerbe at community meetings. Webb, who has a degree from Southern Methodist University (unnecessary disclosure: LL’s grandfather went there on the GI Bill, and his mother and brother are also graduates of SMU) and an MBA from the University of Phoenix, says he was good at his job and routinely was praised by Ellerbe for his work.
“Upon his arrival at FEMS, [Webb] aggressively coordinated community outreach meetings for Chief Ellerbe and other FEMS officials,” Walls says via email. (Walls has temporarily been detailed to the mayor’s press shop.)
But after the news broke that Mayor Vince Gray‘s administration had hired a handful of children of top aides, Webb says Walls and Ellerbe approached him and said he needed to resign so the mayor wouldn’t take a political hit.
Webb says he didn’t think he needed to resign, because he wasn’t breaking any nepotism rules. His job at the fire department, Webb says, had nothing to do with his mom’s agency. “I was basically blindsided when they told me I had to resign,” he says.
But Webb says when Walls broke the bad news, he had some good news too. “He was like, ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to have a job for you,’” says Webb.
The job was supposed to be at the downtown P.R. firm Weber Shandwick. And Webb agreed to resign with the understanding that he’d have a new gig there. But Webb says he never got the job, and he’s currently out of work. Webb adds that calls from Walls and Ellerbe, which he says were made from their personal phones and not their city-issued phones, were frequent right after he resigned last month, but quickly dropped off.
For his part, Walls says he’s “not at liberty” to talk about Webb’s story, because Rochelle Webb is set to testify at a D.C. Council hearing tomorrow. But Walls did add that Brandon’s tale was “not really accurate.”