D.C. Council member Jack Evans' self-described "catch-up after the fact" hearing to evaluate the D.C.'s first-in-the-nation online gambling proposal was as notable for what did not happen Thursday as for what did.
The Ward 2 Democrat, chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, convened what was billed as a long-overdue public hearing on the plan to launch online poker and other games of skill through the D.C. Lottery, the recently released report by D.C. Inspector General Charles Willoughby regarding the appropriateness of the lottery contract award and the poker plan that was appended to it, plus a bill by Ward 6 Democrat Tommy Wells to repeal the added-on gambling provisions.
Although more than 100 people signed up to publicly air their opinions about online gambling, the direct testimony portion did not include Emmanuel S. Bailey, the chief operating officer of the company that holds a 51 percent share in the venture that runs the lottery. Mr. Bailey was cited this week in Mr. Willoughby's report as having misrepresented his company's business experience and activities during its bid for a stake in the $38 million contract.
Nor was anyone called to testify from Intralot, the firm that brought Mr. Bailey on board after it won the contract.
"Intralot is doing this, and I'm amazed that you don't have Intralot sitting in here and asking them about the testing, asking them about the software, asking them about everything," Norman Smith, the first public witness on Thursday, said.
Absent from the hearing was council member Muriel Bowser, chairman of the Committee on Government Operations and also a member of the finance panel that hosted the hearing. Ms. Bowser deferred to Mr. Evans to oversee a contract-award process that she has said was "highly unusual" and made her "uncomfortable." A spokesman said Ms. Bowser instead attended a meeting of the Metro Board, on which she serves as a member representing the District.
The hearing also did little to resolve at least one question from the report.
Mr. Willoughby's report said he "examined" whether the contract should have been returned to the contracting officer when the council learned that Intralot added Mr. Bailey after the contract award. It also said he looked into whether "council members acted inappropriately in the Council's review and consideration of awarding the lottery contract."
But Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who quashed a previous lottery award and guided the current contract to passage in his former role as chairman of the D.C. Council, was never interviewed by the inspector general.
Mr. Gray's office said Thursday that the inspector general's report "clearly indicates the mayor was not involved in anything unethical."
To date, Mr. Gray has not been asked under oath about a meeting he had with Mr. Bailey and Intralot lobbyist Kevin P. Chavous, in October 2008, weeks before Mr. Gray and the council scuttled a previous award to Intralot and a different local partner.
Mr. Bailey, who was interviewed by the inspector general, declined to comment Thursday on the lottery-award process.
When asked whether he was interviewed by the inspector general, Mr. Chavous, a former council member and an education-reform advocate, told a reporter from The Washington Times to "get the f-- out of my face," and that, "I'm gonna f--- kick your ass."
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