Acting Atty. Gen. Peter Nickles

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Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. has been pretty stingy about providing any kind of rebuttal to the explosive charges made against him in a lawsuit filed Monday by Attorney General Irv Nathan.

But back when Nathan’s predecessor and doppelganger Peter Nickles first began his investigation into Thomas’ non-profit Team Thomas last year, Thomas was a lot more talkative.

The investigation, according to Thomas, was a political vendetta—Nickles was out to get Thomas because he was one of former Mayor Adrian Fenty‘s political enemies.

“It is becoming evident that this has become abuse of his office and his power,” Thomas said of Nickles’ young investigation.

Thomas’ charge that Nickles was using the last few months in office to settle political scores found a receptive audience in then Mayor-elect Vince Gray, who said he also felt like he had been targeted unfairly by Nickles for political reasons over a certain home fence project.

So, does Nickles now feel vindicated now that the Nathan has dropped the hammer on Thomas?

“Absolutely,” says Nickles. “I said many months ago he was in big trouble, and he is.”

Nickles says he had some knowledge of the most explosive allegation in Nathan’s lawsuit—that Thomas steered an earmark to a non-profit named Langston 21 and then steered more than $316,000 of that money to himself—before leaving office at the end of last year.

“There were a lot of leads that we were pursuing,” Nickles says. “A lot of people calling.”

As for the current sad state of District government affairs, Nickles says he’s disappointed to see the city’s reputation tarnished, but suggests that there is plenty of more bad stuff still waiting to be uncovered.

“They’re lucky I’m not there, because there were a lot of other things I had sort of in progress,” says Nickles, who declined to give specifics, though he added that he thinks Nathan is doing a bang-up job. These days, Nickles spends his time at his private law firm.

“As an outsider, not a politician, but a hard-nosed lawyer who knew when things were right and things were wrong…” he says, “there were a number of things I noted that were troubling to me.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery