- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2012

D.C. officials trying to unravel lottery contract; Testimony: Thomas used trust as ‘check-on-demand’ place; Prosecutors want Leslie Johnson to pay up; Dinged Virginia GOP now focusing on budget; Court dismisses suit on Virginia’s congressional map; Virginia attorney general settles with questionable Salahi foundation; Maryland Democrats reconsidering so-called millionaire tax.

With online gambling off the table for now, D.C. officials are grappling with how to rectify the questionable local business certification of a firm that controls a 51 percent share of the $38 million D.C. Lottery contract. Two members of the D.C. Council are calling for further review, and the Department of Small and Local Business Development is formulating a response to a recently released inspector general’s report, reports Jeffrey Anderson of The Washington Times.

Employees at a D.C. nonprofit group that former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. used as a conduit to steal from the city raised concerns about fast-tracked grants and the risk of becoming a “check-on-demand kind of place,” according to testimony at a council oversight hearing on Monday. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, made it clear he does not want to terminate the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp. — citing its assistance to youth programs since 1999 — but emails about Thomas‘ projects raised questions as to how the disgraced legislator was able to pocket $350,000 in earmarked funds that passed through the public-private partnership, reports Tom Howell Jr. of The Times.

Federal prosecutors are seeking full payment of a court-imposed fine from former Prince George’s County lawmaker Leslie Johnson before she begins her prison term, just as they did in husband Jack Johnson’s related case. Court records show prosecutors have asked for the $15,000 fine to be paid in full before Leslie Johnson reports to prison March 9, contending that she has $170,000 in the bank. But her attorneys said that with more than $55,000 incurred in legal fees and an estimated $54,622 needed to pay her bills while incarcerated for one year, she will need the money in her bank account to sustain her family, reports Andrea Noble of The Times.

Despite essentially unchecked Republican power in Richmond, another conservative priority was shot down Monday as the GOP tries a pivot to budget issues. The Senate voted 22-17 to re-refer to the Education and Health Committee legislation that would have repealed the requirement that middle-school-aged girls receive a vaccination to prevent the human papillomavirus, reports David Sherfinski of The Times.

The Virginia Senate signed off Monday on legislation that would require voters who can’t produce identification at the polls or are not recognized by an election officer to cast their ballot provisionally, a hot-button measure that opponents claim is unnecessary and will suppress the vote, according to senate-passes-voter-id-bill/” href=”http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/feb/27/divided-virginia-senate-passes-voter-id-bill/” target=”_blank”>The Times.

A circuit court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit against Virginia’s new congressional-district plan, clearing away one of the last remaining hurdles to the plan’s becoming law. The measure, passed after the new state legislature convened in January, protects the state’s incumbents, according to The Washington Post.

Virginia officials have reached a settlement with a charity headed by White House party crasher Tareq Salahi. Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II’s office said Tuesday it has reached a settlement with the Journey for the Cure Foundation for allegedly making false statements and submitting inaccurate financial statements. His office also says the charity solicited donations without being registered with the state. The Fauquier County-based charity was formed to support people with diseases such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, leukemia and lymphoma, according to the Associated Press.

Democratic lawmakers in Maryland are attempting to resurrect the 2008 millionaire’s tax as legislative support wanes for Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s $311 million package of tax increases. More than two dozen Democrats are co-sponsoring bills in the state House and Senate that would increase state income taxes by 14 percent on the roughly 4,000 residents whose annual net taxable income exceeds $1 million. The bills are scheduled for hearings Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the Washington Examiner.