Controversial Gray Hire Will Be Let Go

Friday, Feb 25, 2011  |  Updated 1:13 AM EDT
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Sulaimon Brown stopped by the mayor's news conference after he was escorted from his office Thursday.

Sulaimon Brown stopped by the mayor's news conference after he was escorted from his office Thursday.

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Sulaimon Brown Fired From $110,000 Special Assistant Job

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Sulaimon Brown, who was hired by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray for a position at the Department of Health Care Finance, was reportedly escorted out of the department's office Thursday morning by police, according to the City Paper's Alan Suderman.

Officials said in an afternoon press conference that Brown was placed on administrative leave for 15 days and then he will be terminated. The director who fired Brown said that Brown didn't become unruly and that the police escort didn't seem necessary, NBC Washington's Tom Sherwood reported.

Brown's day wasn't done, though. He showed up in the middle of the mayor's news conference Thursday afternoon and sat in the audience with reporters, NBC Washington's Jackie Bensen reported. He started crying and talked about how he has a family to feed, Sherwood reported.

"They let me go without respect and without dignity," Brown said.

Brown claimed Councilman David Catania threatened to hold up confirmation of Brown's boss, Wayne Turnage, unless Brown resigned.

"I think that accusation is completely ridiculous," Catania said. "Here in the District, confirmations happen by operation of law. They don't require and affirmative vote. People are confirmed unless there is an affirmative resolution to disapprove them."

Brown also said he was told he wasn't a good fit.

"If I wasn't a good fit, the mayor wouldn't have sent me there in the first place," he said.

The city defended both the hiring and the firing of Brown, but wouldn't discuss why Brown was fired. Gray said that he thought Brown was a good guy and that he was disappointed it didn't work out, Sherwood reported.

"I said nice things about his resume and I think his resume, to the extent that I know it, speaks for itself," he said.

Questions have been raised by Suderman and others about Brown's relevant experience in order to justify the $110,000 salary he is pulling in from D.C. His resume has very little information on it and no dates, Sherwood reported. A fringe character in city politics, Brown has worked on various local and national campaigns. He is not an auditor but has worked in that field.

Questions also have been raised about his temperament and some legal trouble in his past, Sherwood reported.

Brown claimed that his firing was prompted by a news story that he was the subject of a 2007 restraining order filed by the mother of a 13-year-old girl, which expired before it was served, and his 1995 arrest on an unlawful entry charge, Bensen reported. Brown said he was railroaded by a campus police officer at Howard University.

"I'm disappointed with the process that made me lose my job -- unsubstantiated allegations in the media to defame my reputation and character," Brown said.

As he got choked up, he added, "If you want to let me go, then let me go but don't tell me nothing that's not true, because my background and my record speaks for itself."

Suderman wrote earlier this week that “Brown’s antics on the campaign trail last year included claiming former Mayor Adrian Fenty doesn’t like his parents, refusing to get out of a chair that wasn’t his at a mayoral debate, bothering cameramen who are trying to work, and threatening legal action against media outlets for not covering his campaign.” And when he was debating, he spent most of his time slamming Fenty and praising Gray.

Suderman continued: “No one at these forums took Brown’s candidacy seriously, including himself. His common refrain was: ‘If you don’t vote Brown, vote Gray.’” Suderman also found records of gun charges, an unlawful entry conviction, and a restraining order in Brown’s past.

At his Wednesday press conference, the mayor said, “We believe he has the requisite skills to do the job. Just like anybody else, if that proves not to be the case, he won’t be there.” When NBC Washington’s Tom Sherwood asked if cronyism was involved, Gray replied, “I don’t see it as cronyism, Tom. I see it as somebody who applied for the job and was qualified for the job and was hired.”

Gray also defended the hiring of the children of several top aides, rhetorically asking, “How do you give young people an opportunity to become the leaders of tomorrow?” What about opportunities for those without family ties to the mayor?

Stay with NBCWashington.com for more information.


P.J. Orvetti contributed to this report.

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