updated 4/29/2009 3:14:59 PM ET 2009-04-29T19:14:59

Former Washington Mayor Marion Barry owes thousands of dollars in back taxes, but that didn't stop him from buying his girlfriend an $800 coat.

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Barry tells The Washington Post he bought the opera coat with his own money Saturday at a cancer auction. He says he topped CNN's Wolf Blitzer's bid.

An opera coat is an elegant evening wrap, typically made of velvet.

A tipster alerted the newspaper that Barry, now a D.C. City Council member, placed the bid while attending a gala at the Ritz-Carlton. Barry is a prostate cancer survivor.

The IRS has been taking $1,350 every two weeks from Barry's salary since late 2006. Barry also had been paying the D.C. government $350 a month.

Barry said his troubles shouldn't be a factor in what gifts he buys.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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