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Ex-officials have no luck urging probe of D.C. lottery bid
Irregularities cited in 2010 letter to IG
Question of the Day
Successors to Mr. Gragan and Mr. Nickles offered no insight on whether they have pursued the request by their predecessors. The Office of Contracts and Procurement, now directed by James Staton, did not return calls for comment. D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan’s office referred calls to the OIG.
The OIG’s handling of an official request for investigation has particular significance now that the D.C. Lottery is attempting to launch online poker.
Mr. Gandhi’s office was charged with lottery oversight as an independent agency responsible for all revenue generated by the city. But sources with knowledge of the political machinations surrounding the lottery contract worry that Mr. Gandhi went too far to accommodate council members who wanted to control the outcome of a competitive bidding process.
A prime example involves council member Jim Graham, a former member of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, who along with Mr. Gray thwarted the $38 million contract award to an ally of former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, despite the award resulting from a competitive bidding process.
Emails obtained by The Times show that in 2008, Mr. Graham met with representatives of W2Tech, a company run by D.C. businessman Warren C. Williams Jr. and his wife, Alaka, after the company won the contract with Greek gaming giant Intralot. At that meeting, Mr. Graham offered to support W2Tech if Mr. Williams agreed to withdraw from a development project at a Metro station he had won with a company with ties to Mr. Fenty, according to the emails.
(In a subsequent letter to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority obtained by The Times, A. Scott Bolden, an attorney for Mr. and Mrs. Williams, said Mr. Graham also had “inappropriately offered a quid pro quo” to their Metro partner to replace them on that deal as well.)
A June 2, 2008, email from Intralot lobbyist Crystal Wright to Mrs. Williams describes a follow-up exchange about the lottery contract between Intralot lobbyist Jim Link and Mr. Graham: “Jim [Link] said that Graham emailed him back thanking him and also saying ‘Do you think they will do anything?’ It is pretty obvious he wants us to come back with something.”
In a widely distributed email obtained by The Times, Mr. Bolden, a former federal prosecutor, characterized Mr. Graham’s offer on the lottery deal as tantamount to “bid rigging.”
“I have made my thoughts on this nonsense very clear,” Mr. Bolden wrote to Mr. and Mrs. Williams and others on June 2, 2008. “This is complete bs and we are getting very close to corruption, bid rigging and other inappropriate conduct and I am not going to be a part of it. perhaps the us atty should make the call on this by speaking with Mr. Graham about his request.
“Am I clear on this. To even consider it is placing each of us at risk. Period,” he wrote.
At the time, complaints by the CFO’s chief procurement officer that Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Gray and others had attempted to influence the lottery led the CFO’s Office of Integrity and Oversight (OIO) to contact Mrs. Williams, her attorney said.
“She did cooperate, and in response to questions and document requests, investigators were made aware of the conversation [with Mr. Graham],” Mr. Bolden said of a July 16, 2008, interview with then-director of the OIO, Robert Andary. “But we were told that they would not be pursuing the matter.”
Mr. Andary could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Bolden added that Mr. and Mrs. Williams, who have declined to comment, have never been contacted by the OIG. “It is my sense that there is no investigation of the lottery contract,” he said.
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