392101 01: American flags fly over the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) building July 18, 2001 in Washington, D. C. The agency announced on that 449 of its weapons and 184 of its laptop computers were stolen or lost. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Some Ward 8 Democrats -- led by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Sandra Seegars -- want the FBI to oversee the September D.C. mayoral primary, reports the Washington Post. They're fearing that Peaceoholics co-founder Ron Moten may pay people to vote.
It’s the latest volley in the ongoing battle between Seegars, who supports Leo Alexander for mayor, and Moten.
In one corner is Seegars, who was the subject of a flattering Washington Post profile two days ago. Seegars "is not afraid of you, or the mayor, or of any of the employees who answer the phone in any of the District's agencies, [nor is she] afraid to walk her neighborhood in Southeast, where the murder rate is also among the highest in the city."
In the opposing corner is Moten, an ex-con who, as Washington City Paper wrote last fall, "is wired at the upper echelons of the city bureaucracy. He bypasses mid-level law enforcement and handles his business at street level, where his word is his bond. And with 50 or so ex-felons on his payroll, who he can dispatch at any hour of the day or night to quash a beef between rival crews or stop a school shooting."
Peaceoholics has received more than $10 million in grants and loans from the District government and associated agencies during the past five years.
Last year, the group got some unwanted attention when it helped the Fenty administration donate a fire engine to the Dominican Republic without Council approval. More bad press came when Barry Harrison, a Peaceoholics mentor, was convicted of enticing a minor and sexual assault.
The fight between Seegars and Moten may revolve around a 13-unit transitional living facility for at-risk youth that the group is building in Congress Heights.
Seegars says that because there are already four such facilities within 500 feet of the site, the project violates the law. She also says Moten has "admitted that he allowed fugitives to participate in his program, under his direct supervision, without first getting a clearance on the alleged murderers of a school teacher."
The Congress Heights community has become frightened "of the mystery facility that is underway to open there by the negligent, untrained, hotheaded maverick," Seegars says.
Meanwhile, Peaceaholics has filed a federal libel suit against Seegars -- which the D.C. Attorney General’s Office wants dismissed.
So what does all this have to do with the Democratic mayoral primary? Moten has emerged as a major supporter of Mayor Adrian Fenty in his reelection bid.
The Post reported Monday that while some Fenty advisors privately say they are "nervous that Moten's efforts could backfire," Fenty himself says "he is 'honored to have the support [of Moten], a great Washingtonian'."
At last month’s Ward 8 straw poll, challenger Vincent Gray topped Fenty 59 to 49 among previously registered voters.
But, says the Post , "About two dozen people, some at the urging of Moten, registered and voted on the same day as the event." After those votes were tallied, Fenty won with a margin of 69 to 61.
Seegars said she knows of "three witnesses who overheard the new registrants boasting they were paid up to $100 each to vote for Fenty," said the Post. The Ward 8 Democratic Committee later tossed out those votes, giving Gray the win.
Seegars complained to U.S. Deputy Associate Attorney General Channing Phillips, and says an FBI agent called her last week to discuss the allegations.
For his part, Moten says, "Nobody paid nobody to vote in no straw poll."