For Washingtonians it is not out of the ordinary to watch the local news, open a newspaper, or read their favorite blog to see a story about one of our local politicians involved in some unethical behavior.
An election for chairman of the Ward 5 Democratic Committee Monday may have helped keep this tradition alive.
As most of us were watching the Washington Redskins let one slip away against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, community activist Robert V. Brannum slipped in as chairman of the Ward 5 Democratic Committee.
Low voter turnout -- presumably due to a lack of interest -- helped seal the election for Brannum who defeated incumbent Angel Alston 86 to 33. A write in candidate, William Boston, received 27 votes.
Brannum is under investigation by the D.C. inspector general for financial irregularities while serving in his current position as the head of the Metropolitan Police Department Fifth District Citizens Advisory Council (5DCAC).
Information obtained by The Washington Times suspects Brannum of misusing the 5DCAC business checking account. Former members of the council have also accused him of making unauthorized debit card transactions and attempting cover up the matter.
Brannum, a former member of the U.S. Air force who was discharged after being alleged of sexual harassment and failure to report for active duty, was tapped by Mayor Vince Gray's administration for an appointed position in the Office of Veteran Affairs.
The newly-elected Ward 5 Democratic Committee chairman is viewed by many as a member of the old guard. He is also a close political ally of scandal laden and fellow Ward 5 city official, D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. (D).
Thomas is currently under investigation for steering $300,000 in city funds allocated for youth sports programs to his non-profit Team Thomas. The councilmember then used the money to purchase a luxury SUV and high-priced golf trips. Thomas has agreed to pay the city back through installments, but could still face criminal charges by the U.S. Attorney General.
A campaign to recall Harry Thomas Jr. from city council is scheduled to begin in January. Local activists, a band of past and present Area Neighborhood commissioners, and republicans are all operating individual efforts.
In addition, some Ward 5 residents are planning to challenge the results of the election for Ward 5 Democratic Committee chairman -citing a lack of advanced notice.
Like TNT, D.C. "knows drama," when it comes to politics, and with local and federal investigations of two Ward 5 politicians, a recall campaign and a possible challenge to election results, this northwest areas neighborhood is setting the stage for really bad community theater.
Our only hope is that nobody tries to reprise Marion Barry's role as the victim.
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