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Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham appeared chipper and was mostly smiles this morning as his colleagues gave him the legislative equivalent of putting a toddler in time out and taking away his or her favorite toy.
The D.C. Council voted 11-2 to reprimand Graham for his actions related to a Metro development deal and the city’s lottery contract. The vote comes three weeks after the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability said there was “substantial” evidence that Graham had violated the city’s code of conduct when he tried to leverage his vote on the lottery contract to benefit a campaign donor interested in the Metro development. The Council also voted 10-2, with Councilmember Vincent Orange abstaining, to strip Graham of his oversight of the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.
Graham choose not to speak before the Council voted to reprimand him. Instead, Graham’s defense was left to Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, who is apparently still sore from being censured by the Council three years ago. Prior to the vote, Barry handed his colleagues copies of the the text of the 14th Amendment and used his time on the dais to decry what he says was a punishment devoid of due process.
“If it happens to me today, if it happens to Jim Graham tomorrow, it can happen to anyone next week,” Barry says.
Graham did speak up to defend what he said was a stellar record overseeing the city’s booze board, and then he explained that he was not pushing back against his punishment—as he’d indicated last week he might do—because it was clear to him that he couldn’t avoid it. He sued the ethics board last week trying to prevent the Council from considering its report in today’s vote, which a judge declined to do; Graham’s lawsuit against the board is continuing.
“I think it’s time to put this behind us,” Graham said.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery