Washington Mayor's 'Faith-Based' Adviser Ousted

The "religious affairs" adviser of Washington, D.C.'s mayor abruptly left the post in late May under a cloud of impropriety.

The Rev. Carlton N. Pressley resigned after allegations were reported in The Washington Post that he had urged a private business sponsoring a city marathon on a religious holiday to make a donation to the city's planned religious awards ceremony.

According to a May 29 report in the Post, Pressley had been working to tamp down the anger roiling the city's religious communities over the fact that the DC Marathon was scheduled for Palm Sunday. The Post reported that Pressley solicited $5,000 from the private company hosting the city marathon to help the city pay for a clergy awards ceremony.

Administrators for D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams told the Post that Pressley violated an executive order that called for obtaining approval for the solicitation from the city's Office of Partnership and Grants Development. Moreover, the paper noted, Pressley violated the order by failing to have the private company sign a donation agreement with the city.

The mayor's officials also told the Post that Pressley was not "forthright in his explanation about the circumstances of the donation."

Pressley, however, maintained that he lost his job and its $59,466 salary, because Mayor Williams was moving in a "different direction."

The Post's report also noted that Pressley had been involved in other controversies since joining the mayor's office. In fall 2002, a female city employee accused Pressley of sexual harassment. The city's inspector general's office reviewed the matter and sent a report to the mayor in December but it has not been made public.