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Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham says he has placed his chief of staff, arrested today in a federal bribery probe, on paid administrative leave, saying he is entitled to a presumption of innocence.
He also reiterated that Ted Loza had not tried to sway him on taxicab legislation: “Nothing that happened that has been alleged whether it occurred or didn’t occur, had any influence on any action I took in terms of the legislation on taxicabs….There’s absolutely no impact of anything relating to these allegations on that legislation. Going one step further, I had never had any conversation with Teddy Loza where he came to me and he said, ‘Will you do this or will you do that?'” He added that the legislation resulted from a task force that had engaged in a year’s worth of deliberations.
Graham did say he had indeed met with one of the individuals alleged in the indictment to have bribed Loza, a day ahead of the legislative meeting where Graham introduced the bill. But he denied that the taxi matter even came up: “There were no changes to that legislation as a result of any meeting,” he says.
Regarding the employment of Loza’s wife at the Fiesta D.C. nonprofit, Graham “categorically” denied that was connected to his practice of sending earmarked funds to the group through his committee. And he also addressed why, from 2002 to 2007, he held a one-percent interest in Loza’s condominium apartment: “When he first purchased the apartment, he wanted some assistance from me; I helped him a little bit.” When Loza refinanced, he says, he got his money back.
Graham also went to great pains to say that Loza would not be in a position to influence a bill generally: “Teddy worked here in the personal staff. He had hardly any involvement in legislative matters…That was just not Teddy’s set of responsibilities, having to do with legislation.”
So why would someone bribe Loza, his longtime right-hand man, to fix legislation? “I cannot explain it,” he says.