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Mr. Thomas said the most vocal opponents of the Stadium Club “aren’t even directly affected by it.” He said the matter is properly before the ABC Board and the BZA, and he criticized the Ward 5 Improvement Association for failing to gain sufficient support from the ANC. He also dismissed Ms. Henderson as a proxy for her mother, former ANC Commissioner Kathy Henderson, who ran against him in last year’s election.

As for Mr. Forney’s involvement with a strip club business, Mr. Thomas said: “Many business owners diversify. Mr. Forney is a certified minority contractor and competes for city contracts on a competitive basis. He’s shown support for community issues and been a responsible business owner. Those are the issues that represent to me what he does as a businessman.”

Political connections

According to city records, Mr. Forney has received multimillion-dollar contracts from more than a half-dozen D.C. agencies in the past decade, including the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, and the Department of Mental Health. Since 2000, the District has paid his firm $93.5 million, according to figures released by the office of the chief financial officer.

Since 2002, Mr. Forney has contributed a total of more than $25,000 to candidates for elected office in the District. He, his company and its employees contributed at least $10,000 to the unsuccessful Fenty re-election campaign.

Mr. Forney also is a “major corporate partner member” of the National Association of Minority Contractors and has received more than $5 million in federal contracts since 2000, including more than $2 million in stimulus-funded contracts, according to Recovery.org and the nonprofit federal budget monitor OMB Watch.

Since 2008, Federal Election Commission records show that he and his company have given more than $62,000 to the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic parties in Maryland and Virginia, and Democratic causes and candidates, including President Obama.

But it is his unspecified “minimal at best” contribution to Team Thomas that may be worthy of more answers, given that the OAG determined in December that the organization “unlawfully solicited charitable donations without a license.”

The extent of the Forney-Thomas relationship is unclear. They share a passion for golf, and both are involved in charity fundraisers at Langston Golf Course. Mr. Forney has been a corporate sponsor of the Jimmy Garvin Legacy Foundation tournament the past several years, according to Mr. Garvin, the event’s founder. And Team Thomas has held similar charity events at the same golf course, which Mr. Thomas calls his home course, Mr. Garvin said.

Mr. Thomas said Mr. Forney’s role in the Team Thomas charity golf tournaments is limited to that of “participant.”

Both men belong to the same fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, and Mr. Thomas and his wife were seated at a table purchased by Mr. Forney at the recent inauguration of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, also an Omega. Mr. Cooke said Mr. Thomas and his wife purchased their own tickets to the event and spent time at a number of different tables.

Since 2008, Mr. Forney has contributed at least $11,000 to Mr. Baker’s campaigns, and Forney Enterprises Inc. was listed as a “Platinum Path” sponsor on the county’s inauguration website, with a $15,000 contribution.

One of Mr. Forney’s companies, Omega Gold Development Group, received $900,000 in unused federal grant money from the Prince George’s County Council in October to build affordable housing for low-income families. The funds were left over from a HOME Investment Partnership grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — a source of funding at the center of an ongoing probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland of former County Executive Jack B. Johnson, also an Omega.

Mr. Thomas has dismissed the Team Thomas probe as politically motivated, but it’s not the first time his ties to developers have raised questions. The Office of Campaign Finance admonished Mr. Thomas in December 2009 for allowing a staff member to co-found and work for a nonprofit that received money from a developer with business before the city.

An investigation concluded that Mr. Thomas did not violate D.C. law when a developer gave the nonprofit a $40,000 contribution a day before the council member submitted a letter to the zoning commission offering his support for the developer’s project.

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