Sulaimon Brown escorted out of office by police (documents)
Sulaimon Brown, a minor candidate in last year's mayoral election best known for occasionally vicious attacks on incumbent Adrian Fenty, has lost his $110,000-a-year job at the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance, and has implicated both the mayor and a 14-year incumbent councilmember in his hiring and dismissal.
Last Sunday, the Washington Post reported that Brown had been hired as a "special assistant" in the office with a yearly salary of $110,000. That gig ended Thursday morning. At an afternoon press conference, the department's director, Wayne Turnage, said Brown had been placed on paid administrative leave for 15 days and would then be fired. (Those 15 days will cost the city more than $4,000 in extra pay.) Midway through the event, Brown arrived, unprompted and unannounced. After Mayor Vince Gray spoke, reporters rushed toward Brown.
Brown -- who once questioned whether or not Fenty loved his parents and has been roundly mocked in the press -- repeatedly stopped to compose himself while speaking to the media, tearing up as he spoke about trying to provide for his family. Contradicting Gray's claim from Wednesday that he had nothing to do with the hire, Brown said the mayor knew he had been hired for the special assistant position. And he said At-Large Councilmember David Catania (I) got him fired by threatening to hold up Turnage's nomination to the permanent post.
(Here's a short clip of Brown speaking to reporters, courtesy of the Washington City Paper.)
"[Turnage] said Catania, basically, was going to block [Turnage's] nomination if he didn't act on this," Brown said. Turnage, who was chief of staff to former Virginia governor Tim Kaine (D), was nominated for the position last month.
Earlier Thursday, Catania's chief of staff, Ben Young, said his boss knew nothing more than what Turnage had said publicly. After Brown's accusation, the councilmember himself told WTOP's Mark Segraves that "I don't know this guy from Oprah."
Young said Brown's accusation was "preposterous" and that Catania has been highly impressed by Turnage and looks forward to working with him on major issues.
Brown's tears were the final part of a tumultuous day in the halls of the Wilson Building in the midst of a crazy week for Gray and members of the D.C. Council. This morning, the City Paper reported Brown had been escorted from his offices by police, one day after Gray defended his hiring before a hostile press corps.
A spokeswoman for D.C. Police said officers with D.C. Protective Services -- a separate agency that provides security for the city government -- escorted Brown from an office on the 800 block of North Capital St. NW, where the Department of Health Care Finance is located. The Washington Post, citing an anonymous police department source, reported that Brown became "disorderly" after he was told of his dismissal.
Brown denied this. "I was in my office, sitting at my desk, talking on my phone," he said. "I don't know what disruption I was causing."
Brown attracted a minuscule number of votes in the September Democratic primary. But throughout the campaign, it never was clear if he actually wanted to win. A one-time Fenty volunteer, he became a frequent critic of the mayor at candidate forums and would typically end his pitches to voters with the words, "If you can't vote Brown, vote Gray."
On Thursday, Brown admitted to serving as a stalking horse for the then-council chairman, but said he didn't coordinate with the Gray campaign. Brown eventually received fewer than 300 votes in the Democratic primary.
"I helped candidate Gray at the time," he said. "I kept my independence."
By the end of the campaign, Brown's behavior had grown increasingly strange. When Gray was introduced to crowds, Brown would follow directly behind the then-council chairman. At a debate late in the race, he became irate after organizers wouldn't let him join the major candidates on stage.
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