D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's adult children have been given thousands of dollars worth of highly sought after sky suite tickets to numerous sold out concerts and events at Verizon Center since Gray took office last year.
Gray's office controls the tickets for a luxury box at the downtown venue as well as at Nationals Park. According to records provided by the mayor's office, Carlos Gray has used the District's Sky Suite to catch premier events including concerts by Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj. He's also been provided tickets to Washington Wizards games and the circus.
The mayor's office has provided Gray's daughter, Jonice Gray Tucker, with at least 40 tickets as well as parking passes to events including Disney On Ice, Cirque Du Soleil, and concerts by Taylor Swift and Sade.
Gray defends the use of the tickets pointing out that both his children act as ambassadors for the city without any compensation.
"First of all my daughter is officially designated the First Lady of the city, because my wife is deceased." Gray said in an interview. "My son too, he is out and about doing things all of the time." Gray added, "Neither one of them has been there on any really frequent basis."
According to records maintained by the Executive Office of the Mayor the vast majority of the tickets controlled by the mayor go to constituents. But the record keeping is far from precise. The mayor's office only keeps track of who requests the tickets, not who the final user is.
Government employees can request tickets on behalf of constituents without any further documentation. Mayor Gray acknowledged the tickets issued to his children were used by them, but often times at his request to entertain other guests.
Gray says the primary use of the sky suites is to further the business of the District.
"We've made a conscious effort to use those tickets as much as we possibly can for the improvement and advancement of the city." Gray said. "We've invited companies in that we want to do business in the District of Columbia, we've had leaders from technology firms, we've also hosted congressional representatives."
A spokesperson for Gray says food and beverages are not provided by the city during the events.
Gray's children aren't the only ones taking advantage of the government perk. The District's Chief Financial Officer, Natwar Gandhi, received sky suite tickets to the recent Bruce Springsteen concert as well as last year's Taylor Swift concert. A spokesperson for Gandhi says he uses the tickets to take his grandchildren to the shows.
Gray's former Chief of Staff received all 24 sky suite tickets for the Lady Gaga show to entertain the mayor's staff. When country star Keith Urban took the stage at Verizon Center last year the mayor's suite was home to 20 members of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Other notables who are listed as receiving the free tickets include Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, Go-Go Godfather Chuck Brown and the Mayor's girlfriend Linda Mercado Greene. All of whom were given tickets to various Nationals games. Former Mayor Sharon Pratt, Gray's old boss, was given VIP passes to a Washington Kastles game.
As for the Mayor himself, he told us he rarely uses the suites himself.
"You didn’t see my name on that list very often did you?" Gray said.
In fact, the mayor is listed as using the suites only a few times including to see concerts by R Kelly and Sade as well as the second and third rounds of last year's NCAA Tournament.