Donna Watts-Brighthaupt

On Tuesday, Robert S. Bennett laid out an astonishingly detailed case against Ward 8 Councilmember Marion S. Barry Jr. and concluded that the matter should be referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Bennett’s conclusion raises the rather comical notion that the U.S. Attorney’s Office consists of a bunch of bureaucrats sitting around the office waiting for “referrals” to come across the fax machine.

In fact, the federal prosecutors that oversee crime and justice in the District need no stamped-and-signed invitation to take on a case. When news broke last summer concerning Barry’s controversial business and personal relationship with Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, law enforcement officials soon began looking into the allegations. They quizzed Watts-Brighthaupt, who refuses to say how many meetings she had with the law.

And so far, prosecutors have not charged Barry with kickbacks or directing money to fishy nonprofits staffed by supporters. The Bennett report may read like a slam dunk. A jury may not see it that way.

Prosecutors may be showing restraint for one reason: Donna Watts, on the witness stand. Just watch her interview with Fox 5. Or read our interview with her earlier this week about those kickbacks.

Today, City Desk reached Watts at her home asked her about the prospect of a criminal prosecution.

“I hope it doesn’t go there,” Watts says.

Watts went on to say:

“I hope that [Barry] won’t have to be prosecuted. I don’t think it warrants the U.S. Attorney’s Office. I don’t think it should go that far, really I don’t. Not for what he did with me…. I hope the people we elected as our leaders will exemplify true leadership…research..ask the right questions…and deal with this problem internally.”

Would you testify?

“I haven’t thought about it,” Watt says.

“As far as Marion is concerned, let’s just say I hope the truth, the entire truth is revealed,” Watts says.  “And the council will take all into account before deciding Marion’s fate.”

*file photo by Darrow Montgomery.