Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jim Graham in hot water for ethics violations (plus Dotti Love Wade)

IMG_8588 Jim Graham, Ward One's councilman, has been in the news a lot lately over some ethics charges. In short, the city's ethics board dinged Graham for allegedly trading a 2008 vote for a company bidding to win the city's lottery contract in exchange for that company not bidding to build on a Metro property. The board said he "abandoned his impartiality and demonstrated inappropriate preferential treatment." However, the board won't punish Graham, claiming they don't have the authority. Graham disagrees with the findings and has a statement on his website.

It's a confusing series of events -- the Post reports that Graham asked a company to drop their bid for the Metro development. The Post and the City Paper speculate the request was made because Graham didn't like the developer, Warren Williams. Williams used to run Club U, the club in the Reeves Center that Graham got shut down after a fatal stabbing, and may have been involved with some negative signs about Graham which claimed he was "Grahamzilla the Black Business Killer" and other nasty and race-baiting things

The City Paper, in an article called "Jim Graham Not So Good At Reporting Possible Illegal Activity" also says a city employee was fired after awarding the lottery contract, and reports city Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi saying that Graham was "on a personal vendetta here" against that employee. They also report that he didn't report another alleged quid pro quo -- that Graham's friend and current ANC 1A11 commissioner Dotti Love Wade implied to Graham that if she got a job at Williams's company bidding for the city's lottery contract, Graham should vote for the company's bid. She apparently also tried to get a company car from the company. Graham said he was "repulsed" by the request and asked her if she was "out of her mind" but didn't report it. Pretty messed up for Wade, who used to work for DC Lottery, to have made that kind of request. She previously told the Post that there wasn't a request, but after Graham's statements came out, didn't respond to Post requests to comment.

The Washington Post has called for Graham's resignation over the affair, while Graham denied wrongdoing has said he won't resign and plans to appeal the board's ruling, while other councilmembers are calling for another investigation. Patrick Mara, a former Ward 1 council candidate who is running for at-large council, said in a statement last week that Graham must apologize.

In short, it's confusing. You may recall that Graham has been dinged in the past too -- his chief of staff was arrested for bribery charges over taxicab issues, which Graham oversaw and frequent commenters on this blog accuse him of shady dealings with developers (though I haven't seen those repeated other places.)

We'll see what happens.

Photo by dbking


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