The FBI has been interviewing people about the D.C. Lottery contract procurement process, according to people familiar with the apparently widening federal investigation into the District’s government.
The interviews signal a heightened interest from federal law enforcement officials in the highly politicized way in which the D.C. Council awarded the lucrative lotto contract. News broke recently that the feds requested lottery-related documents from Eric Payne, a former contracting officer who is suing the city in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
One person who was interviewed recently by the FBI, who declined to be identified by name citing the sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation, says the FBI’s questions were focused on the council’s role in the awarding of the lottery contract and whether any elected official improperly benefited.
The drama associated with the lotto contracted centered mostly around which politically connected local partner would wind up with the contract. In the end, then-Chairman Vince Gray‘s pick, Emmanuel Bailey, wound up the winner. An investigation by the Inspector General did not find any proof that any elected officials broke any laws.
More recently, the Washington Metropolitan Transportation Authority has engaged an outside law firm to review allegations that Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham (a former Metro board member) improperly tried to pressure one lotto bidder out of a Florida Avenue development deal with the transit agency. Graham has denied any wrongdoing.