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The FBI has subpoenaed documents related to the D.C. lottery contract from a former employee who is suing the city because he says he was unfairly fired for protesting the process by which the contract was awarded, according to that employee’s lawyer. The FBI’s interest in the lotto contract could signal that the ongoing federal investigation of Mayor Vince Gray has extended well beyond campaign matters and is looking at the city’s contracting process.
Regular readers of this blog are no doubt very familiar with the saga of Eric Payne, a former staffer in the Chief Financial Officer’s office whose wrongful termination lawsuit has been a major thorn in the sides of top city officials. Today in court his lawyer, Brian K. McDaniel, made public the fact that the FBI has subpoenaed documents from Payne related to the lottery contract.
The records Payne has obtained as part of his lawsuit are under a protective order, though. McDaniel says the judge in the case ruled that the Department of Justice needs to explain why the protective order should be lifted for the FBI before Payne can hand over the documents.
A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment. It’s unclear why the FBI would turn to Payne for documents that he presumably obtained from the city. Spokesmen for the CFO’s office and the attorney general were not immediately available to say whether the FBI also subpoenaed the city directly for lotto-related documents.*
Some of the key players involved in the Gray campaign’s effort to make illegal payments to Sulaimon Brown were also involved in an effort win the city’s lucrative lotto contract. Howard Brooks, who admitted in court last week to paying Brown more than $2,000, was an adviser to a group seeking the lotto contract that included Lorraine Green as a partner. Green is the mayor’s closest friend and was his campaign chairwoman. LL and the Post have pegged her as “Person A” in court records, a person who knew of the payments to Brown. Green and Brooks’ bid for the lotto contract was ultimately unsuccessful.
An Office of the Inspector General’s report released earlier this year found “insufficient evidence” that any elected official acted improperly during the contentious lottery-contract awarding process. But if the feds start poking around the lottery contracts, the investigation could involve more than just Gray. Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, who’s been the subject of keen FBI interest in the past, was recently ordered to testify in Payne’s lawsuit about his role in the lottery contracting process.
*Update: A spokesman for the CFO’s office says they have not received any subpoenas from the FBI related to the lotto contract.