Former Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham may have swapped out legislating for strip club promoting, but his D.C. Council history isn’t behind him yet. In a ruling this morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals revived a lawsuit against Graham for actions he took while serving on the Council and the Metro board.
Graham’s saga with plaintiff Banneker Ventures begins in 2008, when he allegedly told one of Banneker’s members that he would help him win a city lottery contract if he pulled the firm out of a Metro development deal. Instead, according to Banneker’s lawsuit, Graham wanted politically connected firm LaKritz Adler to get the development package on Florida Ave. NW.
A Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority investigation found that Graham violated the agency’s ethical standards, while the Council voted to reprimand him. In 2013, Banneker sued Graham and Metro, only to have the case dismissed last year on the grounds that Graham had immunity in his role as a WMATA board member.
According to the appeals court, though, the judge in Graham’s original case was too quick to dismiss the charges against Graham. Instead, the court says that Graham has to be pressed more on proving that his actions fell under sovereign immunity.
After telling LL that he wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit, Graham then sent a lengthy text message to LL’s boss. In it, Graham claims that the appeals ruling will give him a chance to defend himself.
“Finally I have the opportunity to present what actually happened,” Graham writes. “Something I have every intention of doing.”
Graham’s full statement:
I now have an opportunity that was denied to me by the dc board of government ethics and by the DC Council
After concluding that it had no jurisdiction due to the passage of time, the Ethics Board issued findings anyway…In that way denying me an opportunity for a formal hearing which I would otherwise have been guaranteed under the law
So too the DC Council opted to reprimand me instead of censure in part because the censure process ~~~which was termed “distracting and time consuming” ~~~would under Council rules have required a formal hearing where witnesses could be called, evidence presented and cross examination permitted
Obviously I would have preferred the Court of Appeals to have affirmed the District Court decision
But finally I have the opportunity to present what actually happened ~~~something I have every intention of doing
Photo by Darrow Montgomery