Orange blasts Mendelson as choice for council chair

Local,DC,Liz Farmer

A staff member for at-large D.C. Councilman Vincent Orange issued a statement from his boss to the council and media Tuesday blasting the proposed nomination of at-large Councilman Phil Mendelson to interim council chair. The nomination by acting chair, Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh, also includes nominating at-large Councilman Michael Brown to succeed Cheh as Council Pro Tempore.

In his message, Orange says he "cannot in good conscience support this resolution" and refers colleagues to Colbert King’s Washington Post column Saturday with the headline “We’re to blame for the D.C. Council mess.” King's column lays out the wrongs — accused or otherwise — of many public figures including Michael Brown, former chairman Kwame Brown and campaign aides to Mayor Vincent Gray.

"The reputation of the Council of the District of Columbia has been severely damaged," Orange said in the email. "In light of [the article] I cannot go forward with this resolution."

Incidentally King's story does not include Orange's recent embarrassments, which include accepting money orders that he admitted looked "suspicious and questionable." The money orders came from prolific D.C. campaign donor Jeffrey Thompson, whose offices were raided in March by FBI agents. Orange's 2011 special election campaign is now being audited by the city.

Orange concluded his email to colleagues by asking, "Is the Council ready to clean up this mess?"

The council is scheduled to vote for its interim chair Wednesday morning in a public meeting. The spot opened up last week when former chair Brown resigned just hours after being charged with bank fraud for lying about his income on two loan applications. Brown was also charged with not reporting campaign expenses from his 2008 re-election effort. Prosecutors said their investigation continues.

Orange has said he plans to run for the council chair seat this November, as has Mendelson. 

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