DC Councilmember Trayon White denies leaving Holocaust Museum early, defends donation

- The fallout is growing for D.C. Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White after a new report by the Washington Post claims he used constituent service funds to donate to an event where anti-Semitic remarks were made. The Post also reports White abruptly left early during a planned trip to the Holocaust Museum on Wednesday. 

FOX 5 reporter Evan Lambert went one-on-one with White Saturday night in an on-camera interview. He started the interview by saying he wanted to avoid the negativity he says has followed him since the Washington Post reports surfaced. 

White began the interview with Lambert by talking about the issues that plague Ward 8—things like poverty, homelessness and poor health care—that he works on every day. But Lambert had to ask him about the reports regarding the donation and the claim that he allegedly left the museum tour early. 

Here’s a portion of that conversation which runs just over a minute, and is unedited. (app users: click here to watch)

The Washington Post reports that White (D-Ward 8) made a $500 donation for a Jan. 29 Nation of Islam event, in which leader Louis Farrakhan made anti-Semitic remarks, from his Constituent Services Fund. That money is supposed to be used for community causes to benefit D.C. residents.

White allegedly contributed to the Nation of Islam’s Saviours’ Day, a weekend event that was held in February in Chicago where Farrakhan declared, “Powerful Jews are my enemy,” according to the Washington Post.

White refused to answer many of Lambert’s questions, saying he had already addressed them in a Facebook Live video Saturday morning, which was obtained by the Washington Post. In that video, White said that the latest conspiracy was a plan by the media to attack and defame his character. The video, which was over 30 minutes long, was posted from the heart of Ward 8, and he was speaking to citizens.

White also kept telling Lambert to check directly with the rabbi who was on the tour of the Holocaust Memorial Museum with him. Lambert reached out to the Jewish Community Relations Council, where she works, to get in touch with her. The council said they stand by their press release, and Rabbi Batya Glazer’s comments to the Washington Post in which she said White left the tour early. 

White did say more about his donation to the Nation of Islam during the interview with FOX 5. He said some people who do good volunteer work in Ward 8 are members of that group, and they asked him to donate—and because of that, he did. He said he doesn’t agree with everything the Nation of Islam says. 

White also said in the Facebook Live video that he’s not resigning, and he’s finished apologizing over past remarks. 

Several members of the D.C. Council are rebuking White for the alleged donation. D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) said in a statement:

“The most recent revelation, that Councilmember Trayon White used his Constituent Services Fund to sponsor an event at which Minister Louis Farrakhan made anti-Semitic remarks, is appalling. 

“With today’s revelations, I believe we have crossed a threshold. I believe the Council should censure Councilmember T. White for his misuse of funds in support of Anti-Semitism and homophobia. This is just the latest episode that underscores the historic problems with Constituent Services Funds being used for things that undermine the public trust. That is why I believe the Council should censure Mr. T. White. 

“Over the past several weeks I have worked hand-in-hand with the Anti-Defamation League, Jews United for Justice, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, and countless leaders and congregations to work with and educate Councilmember T. White and others who perpetuate harmful stereotypes against the Jewish people. As a Jewish person, and as a Jewish leader, I have a responsibility to take on this work. The diversity of the District is its greatest strength and our embrace of the least among us is part of our proud tradition.

“To the people of Ward 8 who know too well how hard it is to rise up from bigotry, hate, and dangerous stereotypes, I ask that you understand how hurtful this has been, and that you too, hold your Councilmember accountable. I will call on Councilmember T. White to continue to make amends, to continue his education, to continue to build bridges, and once he has done all he can in changing from within, that he work to change the rhetoric around him. A leader wiser than all of us once said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) wrote in a statement:

“I want to join Councilmember Nadeau’s call for a reprimand of Councilmember Trayon White. I agree with the sentiments in her statement and believe that a line has now been crossed that requires Council action.”

Anti-Defamation League Washington D.C. Regional Director Doron Ezickson released a statement saying:

“We find the Washington Post report regarding Councilman White’s alleged use of constituent funds towards a Nation of Islam event extremely concerning, and in the strongest possible terms urge him to publicly and unequivocally disassociate himself from Louis Farrakhan’s decades-long history of racism, anti-Semitism and LGBTQ bigotry.”

This latest controversy comes after White apologized last month for statements made in a video posted on social media in which he alludes to a popular conspiracy theory that a well-known Jewish family controls the weather. 

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