Peaceoholics Anonymous

Could Fenty's ties to Ron Moten sink his campaign?

Mayor Adrian Fenty’s close ties to Ron Moten, founder of the controversial anti-violence group Peaceoholics, continue to dog him as the Sept. 14 primary draws ever closer.

Washington City Paper reports that Peaceoholics "is broke," and that the Fenty Administration "is trying, quietly, to find some $400,000 to pay them." Two city officials speaking on condition of anonymity said Fenty is scouring the D.C. Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation and Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services budgets to find the money.

Fenty spokeswoman Mafara Hobson told City Paper that the administration is just trying to pay Peaceoholics for services already provided, but Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells -- who chairs the committee that oversees the two agencies -- said he couldn’t think of anything for which the group was owed.

Moten said Peaceoholics has "done work for DYRS that we didn’t get paid for," and suggested Fenty rival Vincent Gray might be behind efforts to "stop Peaceaholics from getting funding by any means necessary." The Gray campaign said Gray "wants to make sure there is fair and equitable competition" for city funding.

Sources told the Washington Examiner that Fenty "has been searching for a way to get cash to Peaceoholics for several months, according to several sources. But unlike previous years, he had trouble finding justification for a contract, the sources said." They said resistance to funding came mainly from DYRS head Marc Schindler -- whom Fenty fired last month. His replacement placed a former Peaceoholics board member in a key funding allocation role.

Peaceoholics has received more than $10 million in grants and loans from the District government and associated agencies during the past five years. In 2009, the group 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.

Fenty stands by his friends -- witness Sinclair Skinner and Omar Karim -- but his support for Peaceoholics is starting to sting. City Paper reports Fenty turned defensive when asked about funding for the group Friday evening.

"I’ve met the kids, I mean, I don’t need any statistics," Fenty said.

Asked how much money the group has received from the city, Fenty replied, "It’s de minimis. I mean it’s so small, I can’t even believe a well-meaning person would even come close to criticizing. I bet it’s not more than $3 million, and they’ve probably done $10 million of work."

"De minimis"? Three million dollars?

Moten has been a visible supporter of Fenty during this year’s campaign, hosting go-go concert events and showing up at candidate forums in a wide array of handmade pro-Fenty T-shirts.

Peaceoholics also put out an edition of its The Otherside Magazine featuring a cartoon portraying Gray as a vampire. Last week, Gray returned home to find four copies of the magazine stuck to his door in the shape of an X.

After lobbying by Moten, Fenty blocked a bill by Councilmember Mary Cheh "that would have made it a crime to pay people to vote," the Washington Post reports. Moten told the Post, "He believes people who pay people to vote should be locked up, and I agree too," but that the bill was unclear on the rules.

The Gray campaign scoffed at this. "The bill says, in the most simple of terms, you can’t buy someone’s vote. The fact that the mayor wouldn’t sign it speaks volumes," said strategist Mo Elleithee.

Fenty’s relationship with Moten has been a sleeper issue in the campaign so far, but the recent rush of press could put it on voters’ radar.

Perhaps Fenty needs some Peaceoholics rehab.

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