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Just how bad is Mayor Adrian Fenty‘s public image these days? Bad enough that WTOP felt free to go ahead and ask Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier whether her department has been covering up domestic abuse by the District’s chief executive.

“Actually, those rumors surfaced—I believe—as soon as he began running for mayor, and they’ve been around ever since,” Lanier said on WTOP’s “Ask the Chief” radio show Thursday. “Periodically, they will pop back up, but I can tell you without any question, nobody in the Metropolitan Police Department would cover that up. Certainly, I wouldn’t cover that up as a district commander.”

Which, if you think about it, is kind of amazing. There’s a reason, after all, that the first example of an unfair question that comes to mind is, “So when did you stop beating your wife?” Even though Lanier says there’s nothing to the rumors, airing them on the biggest all-news radio station in the region isn’t exactly helpful. (Fenty himself also addressed those rumors on the radio this week, telling WPGC-FM’s Big Tigger that “none of that is true” and it “borders on libel and slander.”) Allegations of domestic abuse and a police cover-up—even if they’re totally unfounded and easily knocked down—can’t be what the Fenty campaign braintrust wants to be talking about right now.