A Ward 5 civic activist and supporter of former Mayor Adrian Fenty has filed papers with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to begin the process of seeking a recall election to oust Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chair Kwame Brown, both Democrats, from office.
The activist, Frederick Butler, says he also plans to file papers seeking a recall election against gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3).
Butler has said each of the four elected officials were responsible for encouraging or failing to take steps to prevent corruption in government. He said Graham should be held responsible for the arrest in 2009 and guilty plea last year of his former chief of staff, Ted Loza, for accepting a “gratuity” from a taxicab industry official seeking to influence taxi related legislation then pending before the Council.
Federal authorities that investigated Loza said Graham was not implicated in the alleged corruption scheme. Last June, a federal judge sentenced Loza to eight months in prison.
Graham could not be immediately reached for comment.
Most political observers say Butler lacks the financial resources and support for the difficult task of obtaining 45,000 petition signatures within the next 180 days to place a recall election for Gray and Brown on the ballot in the November election. He would need signatures from 10 percent of the registered voters in Wards 1 and 3 to place Graham and Cheh on the ballot for a recall election in November. Observers note that attempts have been made to recall every previous mayor accept Walter Washington and all of them failed to obtain the signatures needed to place a recall on the ballot.
Butler is a friend and protégé of Fenty’s controversial supporter and college fraternity brother Sinclair Skinner, who came under investigation by the City Council after his company, Liberty Engineering and Design, received city contracts under the Fenty administration that critics said were due to cronyism.
Skinner came under fire from gay activists during one of Graham’s re-election campaigns when news surfaced that he distributed anti-gay fliers attacking Graham on behalf of one of Graham’s opponents in the Democratic primary.
Local gay activists Rick Rosendall and Peter Rosenstein, who backed Gray for mayor in the 2010 election, said they see no interest within the LGBT community for recalling Gray, Brown, Graham, or Cheh. Gay Democratic activist John Fanning, who supported Fenty in the 2010 mayoral election, said he, too, has no interest in seeing the four officials subjected to recall.
“I won’t sign the petition,” said Fanning. “My feeling is why don’t we wait until the next regular election and let the voters decide then.”