Judicial Watch Blog
January 31, 2012
In a classic fleecing of U.S. taxpayers, a politically-connected nonprofit blew millions of dollars that were supposed to help build and renovate housing for the poor in the slums surrounding the nation’s capital.
The cash—more than $13.7 million—mostly flowed under the leadership of ousted Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, who lost reelection in 2010. During his tenure Fenty was embroiled in a variety of scandals, including the use of taxpayer-funded ads to promote a family business that donated big bucks to his political campaign and controversial trips to Dubai and China on taxpayer time. Judicial Watch obtained documents related to the questionable jaunts which were financed by the foreign governments while Fenty served as an elected official of a U.S. city.
During that time, a charity (Peaceoholics) headed by Fenty’s pal got lots of federal and local cash without being held accountable for how the funds were spent. Several local newspapers have reported on the scandal in the last few years, but this week the area’s mainstream paper published a lengthy exposé that should make most people cringe. It outlines how millions in federal and local funds have been poured into “affordable” housing projects that were never completed.
The scathing article apparently embarrassed some members of the D.C. Council, which has been napping throughout this scandal. One councilman, Michael A. Brown, issued a press release following the story expressing deep concern by “evidence that has been uncovered pointing to unethical behavior and possible criminal malfeasance.” Brown is calling for an “investigation” of a more recent $4.6 million that Peaceoholics got to transform distressed apartments for troubled young men.
Instead, the project became something of a spending free-for-all for developers and contractors who knew redevelopment money was out on the street and in the hands of a novice nonprofit with unchecked authority to spend it,” according to the news story. It goes on to say: “The project was overseen at the housing agency by a top manager with real estate interests of his own who, along with other housing officials, often failed to impose fundamental spending rules and regular oversight. Instead of competitive bidding, Peaceoholics did business with friends and associates. Work often wasn’t tracked or documented.”
As outrageous as this may seem, this sort of thing is par for the course in D.C.’s perpetually corrupt government, which has been rocked by a series of scandals in recent years. Last summer Mayor Vincent Gray, a veteran councilman, was the subject of a corruption investigation for paying a mayoral candidate to stay in the race and trash dethroned, then-Mayor Fenty.
After becoming mayor last January Gray came under fire for hiring an army of senior staffers with lucrative salaries while the city suffered through a painful $400 million budget shortfall. Among Gray’s highly-paid employees are the son of his chief of staff and the daughter of a close adviser.
Who could forget Mayor Marion Barry—elected to the D.C. Council four times since his drug conviction—starring in an FBI surveillance video smoking crack? Barry, who represents Ward 8, has since been in trouble for failing to pay his taxes, violating the terms of his probation and stalking a former girlfriend.