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It’s a damning admission—-or just a case of too-subtle sarcasm. Either way, Ward 8 politico and frequent D.C. Council candidate Sandra Seegars is suing another Ward 8 resident for circulating two recordings in which she says she stole from the Advisory Neighborhood Commission she chaired.

“Yup, I stole ANC money and bought me a new car,” Seegars says on the recording, which can be heard below. “Sure did.” Speaking to Washington City Paper about the lawsuit and the recording, though, Seegars says she was just being sarcastic and denies stealing any money.

The recordings come from a February conversation between Seegars and aspiring ANC commissioner Joshua M. Johnson. Johnson and Seegars were arguing over a Board of Elections challenge she had filed, which successfully tossed out Johnson’s petition to get on the ballot for the ANC election, according to interviews with both parties. In the recording, Johnson asks Seegars whether she stole from ANC 8E, which she chaired before opting not to run for re-election last year.

[audio:http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/files/2013/03/Seegars-recording-1.mp3|titles=Seegars recording 1]

[audio:http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/files/2013/03/Seegars-recording-2.mp3|titles=Seegars recording 2]

Johnson says he doesn’t know who recorded or disseminated the phone conversation, which he says he conducted while using speakerphone in front of more than a dozen people. The recording eventually found its way into the inboxes of several ANC commissioners, which prompted Seegars to sue Johnson on Feb. 26 for libel and slander. Seegars is seeking $100,000 in damages. In an interview, she says she was being sarcastic during the conversation, and that she did not steal from the ANC.

On the recordings, Seegars repeatedly says she stole money from the ANC to buy a car. If her new vehicle breaks down, she says, she plans to get re-elected to the ANC to steal more money. On the tape, Seegars also makes disparaging remarks about former Mayor (and Ward 8 Councilmember) Marion Barry‘s use of crack cocaine, and  agrees with Johnson that she’s a “thief” and a “criminal”:

Johnson: You are a thief.

Seegars: Yup.

Johnson: You are a criminal.

Seegars: Yup.

Johnson: And you run around calling everyone else a thief and a criminal.

Seegars: Yeah, I sure do. *inaudible* I get mine. Yeah, I stole the ANC money and bought me a car, I sure did.

“I got away with it,” she tells him. “So what?”

Speaking with City Desk, Seegars says that if she was being truthful on the tape and wanted to stop its further dissemination, suing Johnson would be counterproductive. “I would not be bringing attention to myself if I had anything to hide,” she says.

In her handwritten lawsuit, Seegars claims Johnson started the phone call “in a threatening tone.” (The beginning of the conversation is not included in the audio recording.) So would Seegars really tell a political enemy information that could damage her reputation? Johnson believes Seegars really was confessing wrongdoing. “I respect Sandra,” Johnson says. “But every now and then, you meet those people that are so arrogant they don’t know when to shut up.”

Johnson isn’t the only person who thinks there’s something strange with ANC 8E’s finances. “We were never privy to the books as to what was being done,” says Commissioner Karlene “K” Armstead, who was on the ANC at the same time as Seegars and was re-elected again in 2012. Armstead says she has been forced to file Freedom of Information Act requests with the D.C. government to access the organization’s records. Her requests are pending.

Despite the sometimes humble nature of the issues they tackle, ANCs can handle a lot of money—-enough, at least, to buy a car. For example ANC 8E’s financial report from July to September 2012, provided by the Office of the D.C. Auditor, reports that the ANC had more than $30,000 in funds.

There’s at least one detail of the recording everyone agrees on: Seegars did buy a new car. After her old car broke down, Seegars says she purchased a green 2010 Camry LE in August 2012.

“A doggone Camry at that,” she says. If she was embezzling public funds, she says, “I would’ve gotten something like a BMW, a Jaguar.”

The lawsuit is here:

[documentcloud url=”https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/613100-sandra-seegars-joshua-johnson-lawsuit.html”]

And a full transcript of the recording is here:

Part One:

Joshua Johnson: To buy your car.

Sandra Seegars: And if this car breaks down, I’m going to get back on in two years and steal some more, buy another car.

Johnson: Of ANC money.

Seegars: It’s easy money. Yup, bought me a brand new car with it.

Johnson: So you did steal the ANC money?

Seegars: Mmh, I sure did. Sure did. Yup. Go run, tell that.

Johnson: I don’t have to run and tell it.

Seegars: Sure did, sure did. What you going to do about it?

Johnson: What am I going to do about you stealing ANC money?

Seegars: Mhm. Nothing. I got away with it. So what?

Johnson: So, oh, is Darrell [Gaston] and [Anthony] Muhammad in it with you?

Seegars: Do they have a car?

Johnson: No, they don’t have a car.  So I guess you the only one that was stealing.

Seegars: *inaudible* by myself. I bought my own car.

Johnson: Oh, OK.

Seegars: The ANC money. Yup, I stole ANC money and bought me a new car. Sure did. Then I get off the ANC, and if this car breaks down in two years, I’m going back on and steal some more money, and buy me another car.

Johnson: Oh, wow.

Seegars: Yeah, mhm. Easy money.

Johnson: It was easy money for you.

Seegars: Yeah, it was.

Johnson: I’m more confused about how did you steal the money.

Seegars: I ain’t going to tell you, ’cause you might try to do it. *inaudible* a new car, no, I ain’t telling you. Just believe that I did it and I got a new car.

Johnson: Oh wow, well.

Seegars: Yeah, ‘oh wow’ is right.

Johnson: Sandra Seegars, you are something else.

Seegars: I know it.

Johnson: You are a thief.

Seegars: Yup.

Johnson: You are a criminal.

Seegars: Yup.

Johnson: And you run around calling everyone else a thief and a criminal.

Seegars: Yeah, I sure do. *inaudible* I get mine. Yeah, I stole the ANC money and bought me a car, I sure did.

Johnson: You’re just like Marion Barry, so you would steal the Council’s money.

Seegars: No, I don’t use crack.

Johnson: You would steal the Council’s money, then.

Seegars: I don’t use crack, so I’m not like Marion Barry.

Johnson: Oh, ’cause you don’t smoke crack?

Seegars: That’s right.

Johnson: So you steal money, though, from the ANC.

Seegars: Stole ANC money and bought me a new car, sure did.

Johnson Wow, that, that…

Seegars: Don’t say wow, say good or bad. Don’t say wow. What’s wow? Wow is nothing.

Johnson: Wow is because…

Part Two:

Johnson: Everybody like who?

Seegars: Everybody else doing this, I’m doing it too. Got that new car out the ANC money. Sure did. What’re you going to do about it? Nothing you can do about it.

Johnson: Well, what’re you going to do about my false address? Nothing you can do about it.

Seegars: Oh, there’s something I’m going to do about it. We sent them 25 signatures (inaudible).

Photo by Darrow Montgomery