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Ward 8’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions aren’t exactly covering themselves in glory this week. First, ANC 8C chairwoman Mary Cuthbert cursed out a political opponent and appeared to shove him on video. Now ANC 8B member Anthony Lorenzo Green says he’s calling in the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate whether his fellow commissioners have made off with city money.
Green’s concerns spring from a new D.C. Auditor’s report documenting rule-breaking by the ANC. The audit, released on Sept. 30, skewers the ANC’s previous management, which the auditor claims flouted multiple ANC laws. Among them: failing to hold the required minimum of nine meetings a year (they held just five in the 2009 and 2011 fiscal years), and refusing to turn over financial records to newly elected commissioners.
But the most serious allegations in the audit focus on how ANC members spent the organization’s funds. The audit found $13,293.91 worth of improper payments from the ANC’s bank account. Even finding out about the financial irregularities was difficult, though. After new ANC members took over in 2013, previous members refused to hand over financial records, according to the audit.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the audit focuses on two checks signed by ANC members Darrell Gaston and J.B. Shoatz, worth a combined $2,150, including an $1,800 check to someone with the same last name as Shoatz. One of the members’ signatures also appears on the back of the check, as if they were also endorsing the check. The auditor writes that the double signatures “[make] it difficult to determine exactly what happened in these situations.”
Green, now the ANC’s treasurer, is less circumspect.
“Why does the signature on the back look like they’re cashing it?” Green says.
Shoatz, defeated by Green in a 2012 election, didn’t respond to requests for comment. But Gaston, who’s still on the ANC, describes Green’s referral to the U.S. Attorney’s Office as “tomfoolery” springing from bad blood over their work together on Gaston’s failed 2012 run for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat.
“He’s out to get Darrell Gaston,” Gaston says.
Either way, what happens next is out of either ANC member’s hands. Along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Green says he’s referred the investigation to the Office of the Attorney General and the ethics board.
Checkbook photo by Shutterstock