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The opinion mavens at the Washington Post are mad as hell that Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham tried to trade his support for a would-be lottery contractor in exchange for getting the developer he wanted on a Metro development in his ward.
A recent report commissioned by Metro found that Graham, a former Metro board chairman, violated that agency’s conflict-of-interest rules but didn’t appear to have broken any laws. Graham says he’s done nothing wrong.
Now the Post editorial board and columnist Colby King are trying to goad the D.C. Council into doling out some legislative justice, or at least investigating whether Graham violated the council’s own conflict-of-interest rules, too.
“How the D.C. Council reacts to evidence of misconduct documented in the report will be a measure of its promise to improve government integrity,” the Post editorial board writes today.
And King says: “[Graham] deserves the council’s censure.”
Don’t hold your breath, Posties. If history is any guide, the council isn’t going to do jack about Jim.
Rewind to June 2011, when news broke that Graham had once been offered, but rejected, a cash-filled envelope his then-chief of staff, Ted Loza, plopped on his desk. The money belonged to the FBI and was part of a ham-fisted attempt by the feds to try and bribe Graham, who likely was unaware of the money’s origins but knew enough not to take it.
But Graham, under city rules, was obligated to do more than just reject the money. He was supposed to report “immediately” to the authorities “any information concerning conduct which he or she knows, or should know, involves corrupt or other criminal activity.” Instead, Graham said nothing and kept Loza on staff until he was arrested several months later. Loza later pleaded guilty to accepting gratuities and went to prison for a few months.
What did the council do after these facts came to light? No censure. No discussions. Nothing.
To LL, Graham’s horse-trading on the Metro/lotto contract looks pretty small bore in comparison to not reporting what looks very much like attempted bribery. If the council was serious about policing its own, wouldn’t it have already done so?
Photo by Darrow Montgomery