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PRESS RELEASE

Council of the District of Columbia


Office of Chairman Vincent C. Gray
The John A. Wilson Building
350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
____________________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release: Contact: Doxie A. McCoy
July 14, 2009 202-724-8032

Council Passes Gray Resolution to Launch Independent Investigation of


Council Contracts and Earmarks

Washington DC -- D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray today led unanimous passage of the
“Council Contracts and Grants Investigation Authorization Resolution,” legislation he introduced
to set in motion an independent investigation into the personal service contract awarded to
Donna Watts-Brighthaupt for services provided to Councilmember Marion Barry. The primary
purpose of the investigation will be to determine whether these contracts were in compliance
with District laws and Council rules, policies, and procedures. However, the resolution also
stipulates that the investigation will include “a thorough review” of District laws and Council
rules, policies and procedures governing personal service contracts by Councilmembers, as well
as Council grants awarded to organizations through the budget process. These grants are
commonly referred to as earmarks.

Chairman Gray announced on Friday he has chosen Robert S. Bennett, a partner at the law firm
of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, to conduct the investigation on a pro bono basis, and
to make recommendations for any necessary changes to avert possible conflicts of interest and
questionable practices in contracting and grant-making in the future. Bennett is a former federal
prosecutor who has tried numerous high-profile cases and has served as Special Counsel to the
U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Ethics in several major investigations.

“Empowering Mr. Bennett to conduct this important independent inquiry is a logical step to
ensure the public that the Council wants to quickly get answers to questions raised about the
Watts-Brighthaupt contract and whether all laws and regulations were followed,” Chairman Gray
said. “Moreover, I believe widening the scope of the investigation to include a review of
earmarks is appropriate, considering the questions raised about these grants.”

The Council approved new grant-making requirements at the start of this legislative period in
January 2009 that Gray proposed, following adoption of an interim set of rules in July 2008. For
example, organizations must be a 501(c)(3) or have a fiscal agent with that IRS designation, and
be subject to a city audit. Other rules prohibit an organization from receiving earmarks in
consecutive years, and set funding limits.

In the wake of the Barry contract controversy, Chairman Gray also announced Friday that he is
developing a code of conduct and ethics for Councilmembers and staff. In March he directed the
Council’s Office of Policy Analysis to research and write a paper on the best ethics practices of
state and city legislatures, to be used as a basis for the code. The Chairman is reviewing a draft
of the findings he received on Friday. The paper is not yet ready for release because it is a draft.

The resolution approved today authorizes Bennett to use subpoenas if necessary to obtain
witness testimony or documents. His report and any recommendations for revisions to rules or
laws will be due to the Council within 45 days of the conclusion of the investigation. The
Council is scheduled to begin recess on July 31st. However, the contract investigation and the
formulation of the code of conduct will continue over recess.

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