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More Trouble for Barry

"Mayor for Life" has been accused of many things—but stealing taxpayer money? That's a first.

12:45 PM, Feb 17, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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Marion Barry just can't seem to catch a break. The former mayor and current councilman needed a kidney transplant, was treated on a few occasions for his drug addiction, was accused of adultery, and blamed for any number of things during his tenure (poor city services, skyrocketing murder rates). The police seem to find him in parked cars on dead-end streets with other women and signs of drug use. And of course there was that whole crack-cocaine incident caught on videotape, leading to his downfall. (All of this has been well captured by Matt Labash.) But somehow Barry manages to climb out of his own muck and continue onward. Except this time things may be a bit tricky.

More Trouble for Barry

As the Washington Post reported today, "A team of investigators hired by the D.C. City Council accused council member Marion Barry of public corruption Tuesday for securing a $15,000 contract for his ex-girlfriend and taking a cut for himself." The piece also points out that "Tuesday's allegations marked the first time the former mayor has been accused of pocketing taxpayer money."

Of course Barry remains defiant, telling his fellow councilmembers, "I have been in office 55 years, and even my public enemies, my political enemies, my other enemies have never implied that I ever took a penny that wasn't owed to me." And no doubt he will have more to say. (Remember when Barry was at a Super Bowl out west while D.C. got slammed by a snowstorm but he assured reporters that "I called during half-time"? And the time he was caught walking out of a gentlemen's club late one evening and said, "I'm a night owl"?)

Barry could just as easily draw attention to the council's decision to hire superlawyer Robert S. Bennett for this investigation—how much is that going to cost taxpayers? Or he can shift blame on whoever came up with those ethics rules regarding contractors—were those rules even in place at the time of the incident? Barry was actually late to the proceedings last night because his car hit a pothole. Complained Barry, "The ditch set me up!"

(Okay, that last part isn't true, but you have no idea how long I've been waiting to use that line.)

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