City Paper is not for tourists
Does District Attorney General Irv Nathan really know what happened in the District’s $7.5 million settlement with a company run by alleged Vince Gray shadow campaign backer Jeff Thompson? The idea that Nathan was kept in the dark hung over U.S. Attorney Ron Machen‘s scrap with Nathan to get documents related to the settlement, with Machen suggesting in a letter to the AG that there were connections between District officials and Chartered “that you likely do not know about.”
Now an agreement between the two, obtained by LL through an open records request, shows that Machen offered to share information with Nathan that, if publicized, could make the District take action against one or more city employees.
In early January, Machen and Nathan settled their dispute over the documents by signing the agreement. Nathan agreed to give Machen documents about the settlement that related to Gray, mayoral employees, or a third person or entity whose name was redacted from LL’s copy of the agreement.
Intriguingly, Machen and Nathan also included a section in the agreement about a separate batch of documents that Machen wanted, related to two people or entities whose names were also redacted. The records, described as “Additional Requested Documents” in the agreement, would only be revealed after Machen’s office followed a special procedure.
First, his office would share “access to certain information not generally known to the public” about the investigation with Nathan and three more OAG employees. Then the OAG contingent would consider whether they wanted to hand over the “Additional Requested Documents,” based on the confidential information they’d seen.
Machen was apparently so convinced that the revelations from the investigation would rock Nathan’s world that much of the document is related to keeping the information secret. The OAG representatives were forbidden from discussing the information with anyone else, including mayoral employees, without Machen’s approval, for 90 days after seeing it.
Most interestingly, though, Machen was apparently worried that the confidential info from the investigation would make Nathan want to take action against certain District employees. The agreement forbids him from relaying any personnel advice based on what the U.S. Attorney’s Office told him for 20 days:
OAG should make no recommendation to the District Government’s Executive Branch regarding any personnel action as to an individual District employee on the basis of the Confidential Information until 20 days after a) completing production of the Mayoral Documents and b) producing any Additional Requested Documents…After that period, OAG may in its discretion, after providing at least seven days’ notice to the USAO, recommend to the District Government’s Executive Branch any personnel action as to any such individual and, in general terms, the basis for that advice.
So, did Machen’s secret stash inspire Nathan to hand over the Additional Requested Documents? Tight-lipped spokesmen for both agencies declined to comment much on the case, but individual written statements suggest that Machen got what he was looking for. OAG spokesman Ted Gest writes to LL that he doesn’t think there is a dispute anymore over the documents, while Machen spokesman William Miller claims that Nathan’s office handed over “the highest priority subset of documents.”
As for who the city employees might be, and whether any action’s been taken against them, LL hasn’t heard anything one way or the other.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery