Thies: Money From Strip Club Owner May Cost Marion Barry

Last week, a candidate running for mayor in Minneapolis declared in a campaign ad, "I will not even go to the strip clubs anymore."

Perhaps D.C. Council member Marion Barry should consider heeding similar advice.

Tuesday, the council will vote on a measure that could censure Barry and strip him (pardon the pun) from chairing a committee on jobs and community affairs.

Barry is under fire for accepting $6,800 in cash from contractors who do business with the District. Payments of that type are prohibited. The Board of Ethics fined Barry $13,600 for the offense.

Barry acknowledges receiving the money. He reported it on a financial disclosure statement.

Nonetheless, council members are barred from accepting gifts or other riches from city contractors.

Barry added insult to injury by co-sponsoring an official resolution to approve a payment to one of the contractors, Forney Enterprises, owned by Keith Forney.

Forney also owns Stadium Club, a strip club in Northeast D.C. Witnesses say Barry received one of the payments from Forney while at the club.

I wonder if the money came in dollar bills folded neatly to be easily slipped under a G-string?

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is urging members to vote in favor of punishing Barry.

A censure will require the support of 9 council members. Removing Barry from his committee can be done with a simple majority.

Based on Barry's tweets, he is less concerned about censure, a castigation without consequence, than he is losing his committee perch. Committee chairs have considerable power, a $400,000 budget and enjoy the service of five additional staffers.

This is not the first time the Council has disciplined Barry. In 2010, after an investigation determined that Barry had taken a cut from a $15,000 government contract that he gave to his girlfriend, the Council took away his committee and censured him.

Tuesday will be a busy day for the Council. In addition to bringing Barry to the woodshed, the body will vote to sustain or override Mayor Vincent Gray's veto on controversial "Walmart bill."

In an odd twist, at the same time that Mendelson is whipping votes to censure Barry, Barry is trying to round up the one additional vote Mendelson needs to override Gray’s veto.

Tuesday's council meeting is its first after summer break and could be a tough start for a body that is trying to recover from months upon months of scandal, drama and embarrassment.

Chuck Thies is a political, communications and advocacy consultant. From 1998 to 2010 his professional portfolio included District of Columbia politics. Chuck has worked on national projects and internationally in Europe, Africa, the Middle East , China and Mexico. If you are daring, follow him on twitter @ChuckThies.

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