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There’s a new twist in the ongoing saga over three high-ranking Department of General Services employees who were fired or resigned after two contracts failed to be awarded to a Muriel Bowser political donor. In an invasion of privacy lawsuit filed Tuesday against the city, former DGS general counsel Carlos Sandoval alleges thatBowser’s administration took a significant interest in the contracts.
In August, Sandoval and DGS assistant director Yinka Alao were both placed on administrative leave over their handling of the contracts. DGS director Christopher Weaver resigned after he reportedly refused to discipline Alao and Sandoval over their handling of contracts related to the St. Elizabeths East Campus and the D.C. United stadium at Buzzard Point, both of which were bid on but eventually not awarded to Bowser campaign donor Fort Myer Construction.
In the wake of the DGS shake-up, Bowser officials have claimed that Alao and Sandoval had unilaterally instituted their own contracting process that disadvantaged Certified Business Enterprises like Fort Myer in bidding. In his lawsuit, though, Sandoval alleges that administration descriptions of him as a rogue employee, as well as his forced exit from his DGS office, have inaccurately portrayed him as a “bad apple.”
Instead, Sandoval’s lawsuit, related court motions to reinstate his administrative leave, and an affidavit from Weaver all portray close Bowser associates deeply interested in the contracts. Sandoval’s lawsuit notes that Fort Myer donated to both Bowser’s campaign and the now-defunct FreshPAC.
After Weaver declined to fire Sandoval, according to the lawsuit, Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel chief Mark Tuohey asked Sandoval to sign a separation agreement. Sandoval’s lawsuit alleges that Tuohey had no authority to force him out.
Spokesmen for Bowser and the District’s Office of the Attorney General both declined to comment on the lawsuit.
A court hearing in Sandoval’s case is scheduled for January. Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh plans to hold her own investigation into the case.