Frederick Butler has mounted a thus-far one-man campaign to recall DC mayor Vincent Gray and city council chairman Kwame Brown for what he calls their “culture of corruption.” On Monday, at the Eastern Market Metro Station, he’ll take DC Recall public, beginning the process of collecting a hoped-for 45,000 valid petition signatures. “There’s a lot of support out there for this,” he says. “People are frustrated by the way things are going in DC.”
Butler is a 28-year-old activist with political strategy and communications experience, who moved from Houston to Washington four years ago to work on the Obama campaign. He graduated from the University of Houston, where he was a communications major. He also worked on the campaign of Josh Lopez, a failed DC Council at-large candidate and a vocal critic of Gray and Brown.
The campaigns of Mayor Gray and Chairman Brown are the focus of separate FBI and Justice Department investigations that pertain to alleged illegalities and, in the mayor’s case, also include city hiring practices. Reports of alleged corruption have dogged the Gray administration throughout its first year.
“No matter where you’re from, you hear a lot about local politics in Washington,” says Butler. “Coming here and working on the ground, in the campaigns, you see a lot.” His complaints against the two city leaders include “lack of progressive politics, lack of vision and leadership, [and] the mismanagement of resources, including education and the local economy.” He does not, however, have an alternate candidate in mind. “Right now there’s nobody I can pin my hopes on,” he says. “I’m hoping by doing this, if I’m successful, it will wake up someone else who is frustrated, and they will step up and be that person.”
Butler plans to be at the Eastern Market Metro starting at 7 AM on Monday, even though it’s a holiday. “It’s day one of the process,” he says.
When we interviewed Mayor Gray last month at his office, he called Butler’s DC Recall effort “unwarranted. I looked at the statement that person [Butler] wrote. It’s gibberish to me. Is the job being done? Yes. I’m doing the job the voters elected me to do.”