Mayor, Council Members Spread NCAA Tickets Around

Who's using the Mayor and Council's Verizon Center sky suites this weekend?

March Madness comes to Washington D.C. tonight and the District’s elected officials are making use of their free Verizon Center sky suite tickets in very different ways.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who controls one of the District’s two sky suites, is using his tickets to entertain executives from various high-tech firms and staffers from various congressional offices with oversight of District affairs. The D.C. Council also has a sky suite, which is controlled by the Chairman’s office. According to Chairman Phil Mendelson’s staff, he distributed 2 tickets for each game to 11 of his 12 council colleagues.

Mendelson gave his own tickets to constituents, according to his Chief Of Staff. Other councilmembers vary in how they distributed their tickets. Councilmember Tommy Wells gave them to the Capitol Hill Cluster School PTA, which raffled them off for $2,000. Councilmember David Catania gave his tickets to his Chief of Staff. Councilmember Mary Cheh opted out of the Sweet 16 in favor of Caps tickets. Several councilmembers did not respond to News 4’s request for information on how they distributed their tickets.

Below are the responses News4 received from each elected official when we inquired if they received tickets and if so, who they were given to:

Office of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray:

“This is the list as it currently stands, please note that we are awaiting additional guests and invitations."

Thursday – Technology Event

Mayor Gray
Jen Boss, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
Keith Sellars, Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership
Tiffany Thacker, Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership
Neil Kataria, Founder, newBrandAnalytics and Blue Tiger Ventures
Aaron Saunders, CEO, Clearly Innovative
Peter Corbett, CEO, iStrategy Labs
DJ Saul, iStrategy Labs
Jen Consalvo, Tech Cocktail
Frank Gruber, Tech Cocktail
Lisa Throckmorton, Speakerbox PR
Evan Burfield, Chairman, Startup DC
Tony Lewis, Verizon
Mark Ein, CEO, Venturehouse Group; Co-Chairman of Kastle Systems, LLC;
Michael Chasen, Former CEO, Blackboard
Adam Zuckerman, Founder,
Will Liggins, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

Saturday – Federal and Congressional Partners

Mayor Gray
Marianne Upton, Office of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Steven Upton, Marianne's husband
Colonel Christian Cabaniss, Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, 8th and I
Shaefer Cabaniss, Commander's daughter
Laura Hogshead, House Appropriations
Kortney Wells, Office of Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY)
John-Paul Hayworth, Manager of Affairs in the Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Executive Office of the Mayor
Garth Spencer, Office of Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)
Ivan Learmont, Marriott

Office of D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson:

"2013 NCAA Tournament Ticket Recipients:
R. Brannum
A. Hayes
A. Carson
W. Rucker"

In response to why Councilmember Cheh did not receive any tickets:

“Cheh’s office is the only one because she only wants Caps tickets all the other offices received tickets.” This was later confirmed by Cheh's Director of Communications, Kiara Pesante.

Other D.C. Councilmembers:

David Grosso:

“Yes. We received two tix for Thursday and two tix for Saturday.
Thursday: I gave them to [former Councilmember] Sharon Ambrose because she has some family in town who went to Marquette.
Saturday: I gave these to Dionne Calhoun on my staff.”

Office of Anita Bonds:
“Our office has received 2 sets of 2 Verizon Center tickets to the Sweet Sixteen. Our standard policy is to offer the tickets to ANC Commissioners and Civic Association leaders on a first come, first serve basis."

When asked for specifics of who received the tickets:

“I don't believe anyone yet but will check.”
David Meadows, Director of Communications

Jim Graham:
“In response to your question I have a total of 4 tickets. All were donated to charity. Specifically, proceeds from auction at Nellie's will go to the LGBT center.”

Tommy Wells:

“Yes, we received two tickets to each game of the Regional Finals at the Verizon Center (I think every CM did). Tommy donated his to the Cluster School PTA fundraiser to auction off (spring is PTA auction season at a lot of elementary schools and we donate Caps tickets, Circus tickets, breakfast with Tommy at Ted's Bulletin, etc.). Proceeds benefit the school. The face value of the tickets was $480, I believe. They were auctioned off for $2,000.”
Charles Allen, Chief of Staff

Yvette Alexander:
“We gave the tickets to Ward 7 constituents.”
Tiffany Watson, Director of Communications

David Catania:
“Yes. 2 tickets for the Thursday and Saturday session. I plan to attend in hopes of seeing Indiana lose.”
Ben Young, Chief of Staff

Jack Evans:

Amorde Brabham                                                                                                                                         Marvin Hawkins

Marion Barry:

"I just checked with CM Barry's scheduler, and just learned that we received two tickets, and to our knowledge, CM Barry is attending."

Latoya Foster, Spokeswoman for Councilmemeber Barry

Muriel Bowser:

Did Not Reply*

Kenyan McDuffie:

Did Not Reply*

Vincent Orange:

Did Not Reply*

*This list will be updated as council members reply.

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