In early October 2009, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) conducted and filmed a deposition of Washington, D.C. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin in relation to the lawsuit of former Fire Department General Counsel Theresa Cusick. Chief Rubin's testimony about events as he sees them may be eye-opening to other D.C. government officials, the City Council and the public. For example, in his testimony, Chief Rubin refers to the actions of Councilmember Phil Mendelson as disrespectful, voices displeasure at a woman barking at me, and as a firefighter and officer with nearly 40 years experience, claims to be offended by profanities he alleges Cusick used.
Theresa Cusick was forced out of her position as General Counsel by Chief Rubin after speaking out about an Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation of another D.C. fire official. GAP currently represents or is involved with the cases of multiple firefighter whistleblowers who have alleged misconduct by Rubin and other fire officials. Despite nine years with the D.C. Fire Department, Cusick was transferred by Chief Rubin only two months into his administration.
Highlights of the video include:
- Chief Rubin's claims about threats made against him, as contradicted by a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Detective: In the deposition video, Chief Rubin claims that a former firefighter/whistleblower threatened him during a City Counsel meeting a claim that wrongly prompted an investigation, at the behest of Fire Department officials, by the MPD. The detective in charge of the case found no evidence of any threats. This is reinforced by a video of the Council meeting in question, and the testimony of the detective.
- Chief Rubin's labeling of Councilmember Phil Mendelson's actions as disrespectful: In response to these threats by the firefighter/whistleblower (which the MPD detective found nonexistent), Chief Rubin further retaliated against that person. Councilmember Phil Mendelson sent a letter of inquiry regarding these actions, asking Chief Rubin to explain himself. Mendelson stated that testimony and the manner in which one gives testimony should not be subject to punishment. Chief Rubin states in the deposition video that he will simply not respond to the letter, strongly stating that Mendelson's action of sending the letter was disrespectful. Mendelson is Chairman of the Council Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, which oversees the Fire Department.
- Chief Rubin's problem with female employees: At one point of the deposition, Chief Rubin makes a questionable characterization of a conversation with GAP client Cusick, in which he described being overwhelmed that "this was a woman barking at me."
- Unnecessary and excessive use of profanity in the deposition by Chief Rubin.
- Chief Rubin's claims about meetings with GAP client Theresa Cusick, prior to her firing: Such claims are disputed by GAP, and disputed on the video by Cusick.