- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When the D.C. Council approved the city’s lottery contract in December, two members spoke before the vote on behalf of the local firm that walked away with a majority stake in the deal: Chairman Vincent C. Gray and Marion Barry.

Besides both having a previous work relationship with a principal of the local firm, Veterans Services Corp. (VSC), the two lawmakers had something else in common: They both had discussed the issue of a local partner with a lobbyist for the Greek gambling firm Intralot that was awarded the contract.

In fact, Mr. Barry told The Washington Times this week that he let Intralot know it needed to take on a local partner if it wanted the council to approve the $38 million lottery pact.

“I sent word that the contract was DOA without a local partner,” Mr. Barry said Monday, a day before D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles wrote to the inspector general and called for a probe of the troubled contract.

Mr. Nickles told The Times on Wednesday that an investigator had been assigned to the case.

Mr. Gray, a candidate for mayor, on Wednesday reiterated his calls for the mayor to fire the attorney general and described the call for an investigation as “petty political retaliation.”

“This once again proves why Peter Nickles should be removed from office,” Gray campaign spokeswoman Traci Hughes said.

Mr. Nickles also sharpened his criticism of Mr. Gray, who is not mentioned by name in the letter to the inspector general. Mr. Nickles said the council chairman allowed, among other things, a substantial portion of the contract to be handed to a “complete unknown.”

He said he has no explanation of why an international gambling company that delivers state-of-the-art systems to lottery organizations worldwide felt compelled to team with an inexperienced firm that had questionable credentials.

Mr. Barry volunteered an answer.

“Three or four of us were trying to quietly get Intralot to put together a minority partner deal,” he said.

Asked to identify which colleagues joined him in persuading Intralot to take on a local partner, Mr. Barry declined to name names. He went on to say that members of the Committee on Finance and Revenue - specifically Harry Thomas Jr., Ward 5 Democrat, and Kwame R. Brown, at-large Democrat - were free to talk with lobbyists.

Mr. Thomas did not return calls for comment.

Mr. Brown, a candidate for council chairman who prides himself on being an advocate for local jobs, said he never told Intralot it needed to take on a local partner.

“I’m denying what Marion Barry said,” Mr. Brown said.

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