The U.S. Attorney's Office is working with the FBI to assess allegations made by a fired D.C. employee against Mayor Vincent Gray and his campaign, NBC Washington's Tom Sherwood reported.
Sulaimon Brown claims Gray's campaign paid him to hound former Mayor Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail. He told reporters Wednesday he was going to talk to the FBI.
When Brown was a minor candidate for mayor last year, he was known for his Gray-before-Fenty message. That, he said, is why he was given an $110,000 per year job with the city. Since he lost that job -- after reports of a 2007 restraining order filed against him by the mother of a 13-year-old girl -- Brown has accused Gray's campaign of paying him thousands of dollars as a reward for attacking Fenty.
Gray and his camp have denied the allegations.
The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance and Ethics is looking into the allegations. D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown asked the Office of the Inspector General to investigate, too, but Inspector General Charles Willoughby said Wednesday that he's recused his office from investigating, citing a conflict of interest. Willoughby said Brown had contacted him in January about an auditor vacancy in his office, but that vacancy actually had been filled in June.
"Although I do not believe that my meeting with Mr. Brown creates a conflict of interest that would prevent the OIG from conducting an independent investigation, to remove even the remote appearance or suggestion of a conflict interest -- and to ensure that all focus remains on resolving the allegations -- I have determined that the Office of the Inspector General will not investigate Mr. Brown's allegations, and, accordingly, I am rescusing the Office from this matter," read a statement from Willoughby.
However, if Brown is talking to the FBI, that's a sign the U.S. attorney could get involved, Sherwood reported. The U.S. Attorney's Office released a statement Wednesday night saying it is working with the FBI to assess the matter. That's a preliminary step, not an official investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Brown said he was going to show the FBI envelopes used to deliver cash payments to him.
The mayor's legal counsel sent a letter to all executive agencies ordering them not to destroy or alter any documents relating to Brown. Sources told Sherwood that a similar letter is expected to be sent by federal authorities to city agencies and Gray campaign officials -- standard operating procedure in such investigations.
Gray has retained lawyer Robert Bennett, who represented President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and was tapped by a Gray-chaired D.C. Council to investigate Councilman Marion Barry in 2009.
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