In this week’s column, LL looks at whether Attorney General Eric Holder‘s connections to District politicians now in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors presents any problems. While researching the story, LL found a gem from the archives: a 1997 critique of Holder’s time at U.S. Attorney for the District from former Washington City Paper staffer Stephanie Mencimer.
The story is worth a read just for a look at some of the shenanigans that went on during Marion Barry‘s fourth term. But what really stood out to LL was this line from former D.C. Auditor Otis Troupe: “If you don’t mind a little embarrassment in D.C., you can steal to your heart’s content.”
LL couldn’t help but think of Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. when reading that line. The District’s own attorney general, Irv Nathan, sued Thomas for allegedly steering a city money earmarked for “youth baseball” to a non-profit, public/private youth investment fund, then on to a group controlled by Thomas’ friends, and then into Thomas-controlled bank accounts. Thomas allegedly spent the money on a new Audi SUV, golf trips to fancy clubs, and dinner at Hooters.
Rather than answer Nathan’s accusations, Thomas agreed to pay the city back $300,000 with what could or could not be someone else’s money. Meanwhile, after a few months in hiding, Thomas has re-emerged as his old self, zipping around to community meetings and glad-handing with the mayor at news conferences as if nothing has happened.
Is Troupe’s declaration from back when true now? Will Thomas’ only real punishment be a few months of embarrassment? That all depends on Holder’s man in D.C., U.S. Attorney Ron Machen, and whether he decides to act on a gift-wrapped case dropped in his lap by Nathan. So, far we’ve waited nearly six months to see if he’ll act.
But LL digresses; read the Mencimer profile here.