Council Censures Barry

Councilman stripped of committee chair

By Matthew Stabley and Jane Watrel
|  Tuesday, Mar 2, 2010  |  Updated 7:55 PM EDT
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DC Council Votes to Censure Barry

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DC Council Votes to Censure Barry

Before the council voted to censure him, Councilman Marion Barry condemned an investigative report as unfair.
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The D.C. Council censured Councilman Marion Barry Tuesday afternoon and sent his case to the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Office of Campaign Finance.

Legislation distributed to council members Tuesday morning included findings from attorney Robert Bennett's investigative report that Barry's contracts with a girlfriend and other associates violated ethical and legal standards. Bennett's report found Barry violated conflict-of-interest laws by helping award a $15,000 city contract to a woman he had a sexual relationship with.

A special legislative session on the matter was held Tuesday afternoon after the council's regular session. With Barry recusing himself from the vote, the council voted unanimously for censure and to strip Barry of his chairmanship of the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development.

The council defined censure as "a punitive action, which serves as a penalty imposed for wrongdoing but carries no fine or suspension of the right of the member as an elected official. Censure should be used for cases in which the council determines that the violation of law or policy is a serious offense."

"The report reduced Marion Barry, 40 years of service, to a petty thief," Barry said.

Barry apologized last week for bad judgment in recommending a contract to Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, saying he should have ended the relationship or the contract. But he maintains he did not violate the law, attorney Fred Cooke said.

Before the vote, Barry told his colleagues that the report was "flawed" and that it was his word against the investigator's.

"That's not justice," he said. "That's not due process. That's totalitarianism. You expect that in Russia or Iran or someplace, but not in America. Ando I'm being singled out unfairly for something I did not do. I maintain, very clearly, that I violated no law [except] the law of common sense."

Barry said stripping him of the committee chairmanship was a "great injustice."

Another resolution under consideration would adopt a policy for censuring and reprimanding council members in the future.

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