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D.C. council orders Barry investigation

July 11, 2009 at 12:26 PM

WASHINGTON, July 11 (UPI) -- A lawyer who defended former President Bill Clinton is to head an ethics investigation of Washington City Councilman Marion Barry, officials say.

Robert S. Bennett is to oversee the probe into whether Barry acted properly last year in granting a $15,000 city contract to Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, a woman with whom he was romantically involved, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Bennett, who is taking the case pro bono, is best known for defending Clinton in a sexual harassment suit brought by Paula Jones.

Bennett's appointment was announced Friday after a closed-door council meeting in which Barry cried as he apologized for the controversy, council members said. Prosecutors this week said they would not pursue misdemeanor stalking charges against Barry, 73, who was accused by Watts-Brighthaupt, 40.

Barry, a former Washington mayor with a criminal drug record, has said he was confident he would be cleared of wrongdoing in the contract controversy.

"There is no connection between our personal relationship and our business relationship. I didn't supervise her," Barry said. "You will find that the work product was more than adequate to meet the $15,000 that she was paid."

Barry hired Watts-Brighthaupt for a poverty reduction program that targeted social problems in Ward 8, the ward Barry represents.

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