D.C. council censures member Marion Barry

March 3, 2010 at 9:28 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- The District of Columbia Council voted to censure member Marion Barry, take away his chairmanship and refer public corruption allegations to U.S. prosecutors.

Once Washington's most powerful politician, Barry, a former mayor, pleaded with fellow council members during Tuesday's meeting, telling one long-time friend, "You don't want to be known as the person who took Mr. Barry's due process away from him," The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The council also voted to forward the findings of an investigation into allegations of public corruption on Barry's part to the Office of Campaign Finance and the U.S. attorney's office for possible criminal prosecution.

The sanctions arise from an investigation by Washington lawyer Robert S. Bennett, who determined Barry took a portion of a $15,000 contract he awarded to his then-companion, Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, the Post said. Bennett's report said Barry violated conflict-of-interest rules and hampered the investigation.

The council voted 12-0 to censure Barry and strip him of his Committee on Housing and Workforce Development chairmanship. The panel also unanimously voted to remove him as a member of the Finance and Revenue Committee, a move critics sought after Barry pleaded guilty in 2006 to a misdemeanor tax charge.

Barry recused himself from the votes.

Barry asked his colleagues to wait for an ethics review before considering their actions, saying Bennett's report "reduced Marion Barry, 40 years of service, to a petty thief ... to a Southeast hustler."

Barry's political career has been tarnished by many miscues, including his arrest and sentence for cocaine possession in the 1990s, along with his more recent tax problems that earned him probation.

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