Councilmember Marion S. Barry Jr. has until Tuesday to formally respond to the evidence put forth against him in the Bennett Report. Several of his council colleagues told WaPo that they wanted to wait to see Barry’s rebuttal before possibly censuring him. I’m all about respecting the process. But hasn’t Barry had enough time to defend himself?
Much of this scandal broke after his July 4th stalking arrest. Soon after, Barry and/or his staff held multiple press conferences outside the Wilson Building. Instead of coming clean, his spokesperson read statements that simply bashed the character of Barry’s former-girlfriend Donna Watts-Brighthaupt. [And in secret, Barry continued to pursue her]. Barry’s own response centered on threatening to sue the U.S. Park Police for properly arresting him in the first place. He also firmly believed that there was nothing wrong in hiring girlfriends.
As Bennett’s investigation went into high gear, Barry used that time to keep tabs on witnesses, and pressure Watts-Brighthaupt to not hand over critical evidence. Barry also sat for his own deposition. If there was a time he could have presented his rebuttal to Bennett’s charges, that would be the time. Instead, he refused to answer certain questions, played dumb in other instances, and referred to those kickbacks as “loans.” Bennett’s people found his answers to not be so credible.
As Catania told WaPo:
“These are very serious allegations. The conclusions — they are not allegations, they are conclusions — by our special counsel amount to the fact that Marion took kickbacks” from a former girlfriend, Catania said. “The council does not have the authority to remove Mr. Barry from office. That responsibility rests with the voters of Ward 8. But we do have the authority to determine which committee he sits on and whether or not he chairs a committee.”
No one on the D.C. Council expects Barry to suddenly come up with evidence that will save him. So why wait to start deliberating on what to do?