Ever since his top aide was indicted on two counts of accepting bribes, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham has gone all out to defend his own honor, his own ethics. To that end, he gave this quote not long after chief of staff Ted Loza was arrested:
“I have 25 years of service in the District of Columbia. I have never, ever had any taint in that record. I have behaved with the utmost care in terms of ethics, conflicts of interest. That situation continues to this day.”
Not so fast there, councilmember.
Let’s turn the clock back on Graham’s council tenure. In fact, let’s go all the way back to his first campaign, in the summer of 1998. Like many legislative upstarts, Graham promised that he would work full time as a councilmember, that his constituents would have 100 percent of his attention.
From all outward appearances, Graham was following through on his pledge when he acceded to office in early January 1999: He had resigned from his post as top dog at the then-mighty Whitman-Walker Clinic.
But all outward appearances were deceptive: Just as Graham began his D.C. legislative career, he also began moonlighting for his not-so-former employer.
The vehicle for Graham’s extracurricular work was a $70,000 per annum contract that Graham and his cronies at Whitman-Walker didn’t disclose to the public. It wasn’t until this publication started poking around on the matter that Graham bagged out of the arrangement. When called on the contract, this is what Graham had to say: “I am so excited about my duties here and so involved in so many issues that I don’t have the time to be a private consultant. This is just another way I want to dedicate myself to this elected position, so I think that’s good news.”
At the time that Graham had signed up to work part-time for Whitman-Walker, the clinic had several contracts with the District government, covering everything from substance abuse treatment to a wide variety of social services for HIV-positive people.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery