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The Washington Post editorial page is first out with new details of a hitherto-confidential investigation into the messy world of the D.C. Lottery contract. The investigation, conducted by the District Chief Financial Officer’s top watchdog back in 2008, has been walled off from public view by a protective order in the wrongful termination lawsuit brought by former CFO contracting officer Eric Payne, who says he was fired for resisting inappropriate meddling on the lotto contract by D.C. pols.
The investigator, former executive director of the CFO’s Office of Integrity and Oversight Robert Andary, came to some conclusions four years ago that now sound pretty familiar. Metro just paid $800,000 for an investigation that found that Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham had violated its ethics standards for board members by trying to leverage his vote on the city’s lucrative lottery contract in order to get a developer he didn’t like off a Metro development project. Turns out: that’s pretty much exactly what Andary found.
The Post has posted copies of Andary’s report, as well as a much more tartly worded draft report that concluded that Graham was not “candid” during an interview had acted “inappropriately” on the contracting process as a whole. The report on a four-year old contract would normally be of passing interest, except for the fact that the FBI has recently been conducting its own interviews about the lotto contract.
While there’s plenty of meat in Andary’s reports to digest, there’s even more in the 18 pages of Andary’s notes he used to write the report. LL has obtained copies of those notes and posted them below. They contain more colorful details on what Andary called the “highly politicized” lottery contract awarding process.
When LL approached Graham yesterday at the Wilson Building with a copy of the Andary report, Graham walked off and said, “No comment.” A lawyer he has hired to represent him before the Board of Ethics, which launched an investigation after the Metro report came out, tells LL that Graham has not “violated any ethical rule.” And it should be remembered that no published investigation into Graham, which have all been somewhat limited in scope, has found any evidence of criminal activity.
All that being said, let’s get to those juicy details:
- Graham really, really did not like Warren Williams Jr., the would-be partner on the lottery and the developer Graham was trying to get removed from the Metro development on Florida Avenue. The beef between Graham and Williams stemming from problems with Williams’ management of Club U been well–documented. When Andary interviewed Graham (who had initiated the investigation by accusing Payne of wrongdoing—charges that Andary found were false), Graham “spoke at length” about Williams, his father, and Club U. Graham also tried to dime out his friend, then-Mayor Adrian Fenty, saying that Williams “abused his relationship” with Fenty by getting a favorable settlement with the District in a dispute involving Club U’s lease. Andary also notes that Graham had background research on Williams “that appeared to have been done by a commercial background investigation company.” Williams says any allegations of wrongdoing involving Fenty and a Club U settlement are untrue. Williams adds that it “seems odd” that Graham hire a background investigator to dig into Williams’ past and shows that there’s “no lengths [Graham] won’t extend to in order to hurt” his perceived enemies. (Williams also says he never pleaded guilty to a 2001 DWI charge, as Andary’s notes from the background investigator indicate.)
- Former Ward 1 school board member and close Graham associate Dotti Love Wade requested a company car and a “decent contract based on what she was worth” (she’d worked for D.C. Lottery in the 1980s) from Williams’ company, W2I, to be a consultant if it won the lottery contract, the notes say. Wade made that request a day before she met with Graham to discuss the merits of Williams’ lottery bid, she told Andary. When she met with Graham, he said, “Sorry Dottie, if it was anything else, but not this,” according to report. Wade did not respond to a call seeking comment.
- Former D.C. drug kingpin Cornell Jones played an active role in trying to get W21 the lottery contract. Jones was present at a meeting involving the Williams, Wade, and officials from Intralot, the Greek gaming giant that had partnered with Williams and his wife to bid on the lottery, according to Andary’s notes of his interview with Wade. Jones also called Wade on the Williams’ behalf asking her if she’d be interested in a consulting job, Wade told Andary. Jones told Wade that he wasn’t getting paid for his help, Andary’s notes say. A call to a lawyer who has represented Jones was not immediately returned. Williams says that Jones is a longtime friend and was only acting as an unpaid supporter who helping Williams navigate the tricky waters of D.C. politics.
- Graham gave Andary a copy of a letter club impresario Marc Barnes wrote to Fenty and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier alleging that Williams “threatened him” because of Barnes’ support of the rival local lottery bidder. Williams says he never threatened Barnes, but did confront him at Barnes’ club, Park at Fourteenth, after allegedly seeing Barnes try to eavesdrop on a conversation between Williams and Intralot officials. Barnes didn’t respond immediately to a message left seeking comment.
What other twists and turns await the saga of the D.C. Lottery contract? Who knows. And you thought it was weird when the District government dragged former President Bill Clinton and ABC newsman George Stephanopoulos into the mess!
Photo by Darrow Montgomery