- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2011

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells has joined the chorus of legislators calling for colleague Harry Thomas Jr. amid allegations he spent public funds intended for youth baseball programs.

Mr. Wells, Ward 6, Democrat, says it is not easy to ask Mr. Thomas, Ward 5 Democrat, to step down, but feels it is necessary after he agreed on Friday to repay $300,000 to the District in a settlement agreement with D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan.

In a statement released late Monday, Mr. Wells said he spoke to Mr. Nathan and Mr. Thomas about the situation.

“Although in my conversation with Council member Thomas about the settlement he continued to deny any wrongdoing, he offered no explanation for the diversion of $300,000,” Mr. Wells said. “In fact, he has not refuted the facts laid out by the attorney general in the civil complaint beyond asserting that they ‘are not true.’ We need better than that from public officials who oversee a city budget of more than $10 billion.”

Mr. Wells said Ward 5 residents deserve effective representation beyond at-large members. Mr. Thomas has been stripped of his committee chairmanship and faces reduced political clout, And the council needs to “begin the difficult process of restoring public confidence in our government and its leaders, and Mr. Thomas‘ resignation is the first step,” Mr. Wells said.