Let’s see if we can do some yeoman’s work tracking where we are with a lot of the political scandals that are currently underway here in the District relating just to District Operations. If we had to handle Congressional and Executive scandals, this post would be too long for anyone to digest, so let’s keep politics local, shall we?
Jim Graham, Ward 1 – Alan Suderman of the City Paper noticed as part of Ted Loza’s sentencing that Loza attempted to ferry a bribe to the councilman, and while he turned down $2,600 (this is important, given what else is on the docket, that a sitting councilman turned down a bribe), he didn’t report Loza, or Abdul Kamus who originated the bribe, to the police. What gives?
Harry Thomas, Ward 5 – Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. stripped himself of the economic development committee chairmanship yesterday, returning the important committee to the committee of the whole until such time as the Council Chairman, Kwame Brown, can find a new steward for it. Immediately, Vincent Orange has stepped forward with releases that suggest that only he would be the perfect choice for the chairmanship of that committee.
Vincent Gray, Mayor – The Sulaimon Brown fracas that dominated last week were certainly educational for many. Questions bubble up to mind like, “Why was this lunatic offered a job in the first place?” and “how was he qualified to even be janitor of the JAWB?” Fortunately, unless the FBI knows something we don’t, this one’s just about done. It hurt the mayor, but not nearly as much as it would have had Sulaimon Brown not been wackier than a pack of rabid ferrets.
Kwame Brown, Council Chairman – On Monday, the DC Board of Elections and Ethics released a complaint from the Office of Campaign Finance against the 2008 campaign of Chairman Brown, citing over $100,000 in undeclared donations and $170,000 in undeclared expenditures. Brown addressed the complaint with Mike DeBonis and Freeman Klopott yesterday, saying that he was glad that the complaint had gone from vapor to fact, and he looked forward to “closure” on the matter. Brown maintains that these omissions were errors, and not malicious acts. DCBOEE can refer the complaint for prosecution if they decide it’s warranted.
Michael A. Brown, At-Large – Michael A. Brown sponsored legislation late last year that would launch online gaming in the District, something that this card sharp was quite about at the time. It appears, though, that while Brown was working on the legislation, he was also employed to the tune of $200,000 last year by a lawfirm who maintain a “large gaming practice” according to the Post. While Brown says that none of the firms clients had active interests in the gaming legislated by the Council, it’s entirely possible that Brown’s bill may pave the way for future clients of that firm to move forward.
Vincent Orange, At-Large – The newest member of the council (though he’s back for his second stint) did some horse-trading on the dais recently to keep some funding that benefited the non-profit theater that he serves as treasurer for, as a member of their board of directors.
Okay, So Now What?
This is not a good time for District politicians, and while Ethics Reform is on the docket for the council, it’s not exactly being well-received by District watchdogs like Dorothy Brizill, or by administration members like Attorney General Irv Nathan. Today’s Greater Greater Washington has an op-ed by Bryan Weaver, who ran for council on a platform of ethics reform, that is about as damning as anything that we’ve seen lately.
The message is pretty clear to me: This is a council that needs to fix itself. Chances are it won’t, but chances are, the public won’t be the ones holding them accountable at the ballot box, either. That’s probably the most disappointing takeaway here.