As Gray’s chief spokesman heads to the Obama administration, Norton’s former communications director takes his place. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated 12:43 p.m. | As chief spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray, Pedro Ribeiro tried to keep the focus on the scandal-plagued executive’s governing achievements amidst allegations of corruption against Gray from Justice Department prosecutors.
Now, approximately four months after “Uncle Earl“ reshaped the D.C. mayoral race and helped dash Gray’s hopes for a second term, Ribeiro will leave his side to join the Obama administration.
Ribeiro’s Aug. 8th departure for a senior post at the Department of Homeland Security was announced in a Tuesday email to members of Gray’s cabinet and quickly made the rounds in local media after a Tweet from WUSA 9′s Bruce Johnson. The announcement lauded Ribeiro, known for his sometimes tough, passionate defense of Gray.
“Pedro has been a trusted and valued advisor and counselor to the Mayor and his entire senior team as well as an effective spokesperson who managed to disagree with the press when he had to without being disagreeable,” Gray chief of staff Chris Murphy said in the email. “We are sorry to see him go.”
Ribeiro has been with the mayor for nearly three years. In an interview with the Washington City Paper, he said being combative was part of the job and said, ”There are instances where I have been a dick, and I know it.”
In an interview with CQ Roll Call, Ribeiro said that it was “part in parcel” of his job to defend the Gray administration in instances where they clashed with the federal government.
During the October 2013 federal government shutdown, Gray sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget declaring all the city’s workers essential, in an effort to avoid putting the jobs of roughly 32,000 District workers at risk of furlough. He also demanded a meeting with President Barack Obama to talk about the harmful impact of the budget stalemate on the city.
Ribeiro pointed out that Capitol Hill veterans who go to work for the administration often have to deal with the same conflicts between their boss and the president and said that on the “vast majority of policies,” Gray was pleased with where the federal government was going.
The White House has lured other prominent Gray administration officials to its ranks. In February, Harriet Tregoning, then-director of the D.C. Office of Planning announced she would resign to go to work for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Several deputies have recently departed the lame-duck mayor’s administration.
Ribeiro is being replaced by his deputy, Capitol Hill alumna Doxie McCoy. The former spokeswoman for Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., will be promoted to Gray’s communications director.