Did you even know there was a Muslim Democratic Caucus? Top D.C. official resigns following report
WASHINGTON – Just days after D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray [Democrat] announced stricter vetting of his excepted service appointees, a top District official has resigned.
Talib Karim says he submitted his resignation on Friday.
“It was the right thing to do,” he says.
Karim blames his resignation on the attention from a recent Washington City Paper report, which detailed a messy divorce that resulted in his wife seeking a protective order.
“It had nothing to do with my work, ” Karim says. “I did not want the agency to be tarnished. “
Karim says he did not discuss his resignation with Gray and there was no pressure for him to resign.
Karim earned $133,000 a year as chief of staff to the director of the Department of Health Care Finance. Linda Wharton Boyd, a spokesperson for Gray, confirmed Karim’s boss had accepted the resignation.
The Washington City Paper last week reported Karim had past legal problems, including a protective order requested by his ex-wife and a tax lien. Just hours after the City Paper report, Gray announced the beefed-up background checks.
Did you know the Muslim Democratic Caucus was recruiting Muslims into government positions? How many were hired and were any of the same nature as Karim’s? More from that report:
Talib Karim briefly made news during last year’s mayoral campaign when his organization, the Muslim Democratic Caucus, endorsed Gray. The Post reported that Gray was shocked by the endorsement and Karim’s political split from his brother, an ardent Fenty supporter.
“I literally fell on the floor,” Gray told the Post after Karim’s group voted to endorse him in August.
The endorsement lead to Karim working on Gray’s transition team. On the Muslim Democratic Caucus’s Yahoo! Group message board, Karim posted notices about meetings for caucus members to learn more about efforts to “help Muslims in DC secure jobs in the incoming Gray administration and DC Council.” Karim told caucus members that if they were interested in a District government job, they should submit their résumés directly to him.
In a later message, Karim wrote that “businesses and entrepreneurs interested in forming key relationships with the new Administration can email [Karim] to purchase tickets for the Muslim Dems VIP seating” at the Gray inauguration.
And in a message marked “DC Muslim Dems Make History,” Karim wrote that on Dec. 31, 2010, Gray “[lived] up to his promise to include the Muslim community in his Administration, [and appointed] Talib I. Karim, Chairman of the Muslim Democratic Caucus of DC, as a top official in the Department of Health Finance.” (The Post first reported last week that Karim had been hired.)
The department is actually called the Department of Health Care Finance. Karim says the transition team recommended him for the job. City records show he started working for DHCF on Jan. 3, 2011, the first full day of Gray’s administration and two weeks before DHCF Director Wayne Turnage took the reins of the department. Last week, when questioned about the hiring and firing of Sulaimon Brown—who has accused the mayor of lying and has strongly suggested Gray promised him a job prior to taking office—Turnage said emphatically that “all decisions about personnel begin and end with me.”
Gray’s spokeswoman, Linda Wharton-Boyd, tells LL the administration is looking into Karim’s background. “The initial vetting process only revealed financial challenges and an intra-family/child custody dispute with a former wife,” she e-mails. “Given the mayor’s Monday directive of an extensive top down review of all excepted service appointees, additional details have come to light. The matter is under review by the agency director.”
The parts of Karim’s résumé that are available online show he’s had a varied career. His previous jobs include working as a counsel on Capitol Hill, first for Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and more recently for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Karim says much of the work he did on the Hill was related to health care–related issues.
Karim tells LL he was a “natural fit” to be paired with Turnage, who recently worked for the state of Virginia. Why? Because Karim is familiar with how to navigate the world of District politics and government. LL can’t argue with him there.
Karim has also written for the notorious Muslim Link newspaper.