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Memo tells of politics, power for D.C. lottery deal
City Council cronies clashed with mayor
Questions of influence
With Mr. Gray delaying a vote on the lottery award and Mr. Graham objecting to W2Tech, Intralot officials were convinced that Mr. Wilmot was working behind the scenes to put together a lottery team loyal to Mr. Gray, the memo states. That team, according to the memo, was to include a company that a 2008 report in the Washington Examiner said was represented by Mr. Wilmot and run by billionaire Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson and D.C. businessman and former bank President Robert B. Washington.
Mr. Johnson and Mr. Washington were directors of Caribbean Cage LLC, which says on its website that it promotes gambling interests in Caribbean countries. In a 2008 report published in the Washington City Paper linking them to the D.C. lottery, the men denied any active involvement. They did not return multiple calls for comment for this report.
In an earlier email to The Times, Mr. Wilmot said he had “absolutely no role or interest” in the lottery.
Reached last week for comment, Mr. Wilmot reasserted that he has had nothing to do with the lottery contract.
“Happy trails to anyone who wants to investigate me,” he said.
When pressed about the influence he wields in the halls of power, where he is sometimes referred to as “King David,” Mr. Wilmot, a former dean at the Georgetown University Law Center, displayed a flair for profanity and racial innuendo, at one point deflecting a question with the comment, “I didn’t call your white ass, you called me.”
The Intralot memo says the group “worked closely with Gray” in trying to persuade Eric Payne, a contract lawyer in the Office of the D.C. Chief Financial Office, which oversees the lottery, to “come out with a new bid or accept an unsolicited bid.”
The claim in the memo appeared to be bolstered by a 2009 report in the Washington City Paper in which Mr. Payne said Mr. Washington asked him to accept a bid after the contracting process was over. In a recent email to The Times, Mr. Payne recalled receiving a call from Mr. Washington, who said Mr. Johnson and others were “interested in providing me with an unsolicited proposal.”
Mr. Payne’s email continued, “The clear inference I received was that there were politically connected persons supportive of their bid and that I should give due consideration to their request.”
Mr. Payne was later fired from his job for what he says was retaliation for exposing attempts by elected officials and D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi to manipulate the contract approval process.
In a civil lawsuit, Mr. Payne states that in May 2008, he met with Mr. Gray, Mr. Gandhi and others to discuss modifying or canceling the contract award, which Mr. Payne felt “was inappropriate and constituted efforts to unduly influence the contract selection process.”
Immediately after the meeting, the court documents state, Mr. Gray and Mr. Gandhi met privately, after which Mr. Gandhi, in the presence of his chief of staff and others, “repeatedly cajoled” Mr. Payne to cancel the proposed lottery contract and reopen the process.
In his court filings, Mr. Payne also has accused Mr. Graham of attempting to intimidate him and has stated that he received a complaint from Intralot’s local partner that an advisory neighborhood commissioner offered to deliver Mr. Graham’s approval vote in exchange for a job, car and other perks for herself.
A transcript, also contained in court filings, of a taped conversation between Mr. Payne and Angell Jacobs, Mr. Gandhi’s chief of staff, quotes her as saying that “Jim Graham is on a personal vendetta here. For Gray and Graham, this is all personal. This is about their friends, or who is not their friends for Graham.”
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