Mayor Gray Orders Detailed Background Checks

Thursday, Mar 3, 2011  |  Updated 2:35 PM EDT
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Fired DC Staffer Defends Self at News Conference

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WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 14: District of Columbia presumptive mayor-elect Vincent Gray (R) talks with former mayor and D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry (C) during a "get out the vote" campaign event at the First Trinity Lutheran Church October 14, 2010 in Washington, DC. Gray beat Mayor Adrian Fenty in the party primary and is undertaking a campaign to unify Democrats in the district after the contentious race. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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A day after the D.C. Council addressed last week's SUV leasing scandal by introducing legislation that would make the mayor accountable for all of the city's vehicle leases, Mayor Vincent Gray addressed last week's other big controversy Wednesday night.

After the termination of staffer and former minor mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown following reports of a 2007 restraining order filed by the mother of a 13-year-old girl and accusing Brown of stalking, Gray has ordered tougher personnel review and background checks of all excepted service appointees in his administration.

Last week, some of Gray's closest supporters told NBC Washington's Tom Sherwood that the mayor needed to fix his off-track administration.

Then Wednesday night, the Washington City Paper's Loose Lips reported about another Gray supporter with legal problems who landed a job with the Gray Administration.

Talib Karim, a Gray backer who recently began a $133,000-a-year job as chief of staff in the Department of Health Care Finance, appears to have used physical force on his ex-wife, according to D.C. Court of Appeals rulings that upheld a protective order against him issued by a Superior Court judge.

"While a vetting process was implemented, it is clear that the approach was not thorough enough to address all relevant issues and questions for Excepted Service appointments," Gray said in a statement released Wednesday night. "Moving forward, I want to make sure that we check and double-check all current and future Excepted Service appointees by also engaging our own Metropolitan Police Department."

Gray’s cabinet-level hires were vetted through personal, civil and criminal background checks that included credit history, criminal offenses, driving and traffic records, bankruptcies, property ownership, liens and judgments. They were conducted by an outside agency.

It also covered education, legal, and business affiliations. These checks were performed by an outside entity and paid for by private donations.

Gray acknowledged that in moving quickly to fill positions below the top level, there was not the same degree of rigor as utilized with the cabinet posts. In certain cases, assumptions were made that because an individual had worked in the previous administration, or was currently employed in the government, background checks had been performed.

The new policy includes police background checks on current excepted service employees.

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