Report details offer by DC official on lottery

Draft report says DC councilmember acted inappropriately in lottery contracting process

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A draft report by a District of Columbia internal-affairs investigator describes in detail an offer made by Councilman Jim Graham to bidders for the city's lottery contract and concludes that Graham inappropriately tried to use the contracting process to advance his political agenda.

Federal investigators are examining the offer by Graham to Warren Williams Jr. and his partners for potential criminal wrongdoing, according to people familiar with the probe. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they've been instructed not to impede the ongoing investigation.

The report details a 2008 meeting in which Graham offered to support Williams' bid for the lottery contract if Williams were to withdraw from a development project around a Metro subway station in Graham's ward. Graham was on the Metro board at the time.

Graham insists he has committed no crimes. He does not deny making the offer but says he doesn't remember the language he used, characterizing it as an "offhand remark." He was in a council hearing Friday and did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The report was written in July 2008 by Robert Andary, then the internal-affairs chief for the district's chief financial officer. A revised and redacted version, with Graham's name blacked out, was made public earlier this year. But the draft report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post editorial board, uses much stronger language about Graham.

"The investigation revealed how highly politicized the lottery contract has become, and revealed inappropriate actions by Mr. Graham with respect to the council's consideration of the lottery contract," Andary wrote.

That language is not in the final version of the report. Also deleted from that version is Andary's account of the meeting between Graham and Williams and his partners.

"Graham was trying to negotiate with Williams to back off the (Metro) contract so Graham could re-bid the contract and another one of the bidders, who was Graham's favorite contractor, could get the contract," Andary wrote.

Ultimately, the council voted to reject Williams' bid for the lottery contract, and the Metro project was never built.

Metro hired a law firm to conduct its own investigation of the offer. The report concluded that Graham violated Metro's standards of conduct, but it said he had no financial interest in either the lottery contract or the Metro project. Its authors have shared their findings with federal investigators.

The report is also relevant to the wrongful-termination lawsuit filed by Eric Payne, the former chief contracting officer for the CFO's office, who claims he was demoted and fired when he resisted pressure to rebid the lottery contract. The report and portions of a deposition of Andary are under court seal, and Payne's attorneys are scheduled to argue next week for their release.

Andary's investigation stemmed from a complaint about Payne by Graham, but the report concluded that Payne did nothing wrong in his discussions of the lottery contract with the councilmember.

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Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at http://twitter.com/APBenNuckols.

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