City Desk

Jim Graham, Ted Loza, and Fiesta DC: How They Came Together

Jim Graham

Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of Fiesta DC, can only remember one time when Ted Loza was humble.

Loza, the chief of staff to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham arrested today on bribery charges, had called on Aguilar for a big favor. He wanted the man to give his wife a job.

More than a year ago, Aguilar says, he met with Loza and another board member at Millie & Al's, an Adams Morgan dive bar, to discuss Loza's wife's employment prospects at the organization, which organizes a yearly Latino festival in Mount Pleasant among other events.

At the meeting, Loza asked Aguilar to consider his wife for an administrative job. "My wife is looking for a job," Aguilar recalls Loza telling him. "Do you have something?"

Aguilar was indeed thinking about hiring an additional staffer. But he felt uncomfortable hiring Loza's wife, Ligia X. Munoz, he says. The problem: Loza served on Fiesta DC's board.

Aguilar says that he told Loza that hiring Munoz would present at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. Loza, he says, agreed.

But Loza pressed the matter, and Aguilar agreed to the hire if the full board of directors would approved. Loza went before the board and talked up his wife's job skills.

The board, Aguilar says, assented but stipulated that Loza could not vote on any matters regarding the budget or finances. Board Chair Rodrigo B. Leiva confirms that the board approved the hire. Aguilar adds that he had considered two or three other applicants before hiring Munoz.

Aguilar says Munoz has worked for Fiesta DC for roughly 19 months. This year she received a salary of $40,000. "She's great," Aguilar says. "She's a very honest person. She works very hard....Everybody loves her: the staff, the board, the clients."

In seeking to have Munoz hired, Loza could well have been engaging in a classic political quid-pro-quo: He had become, at that point, a conduit for much of Fiesta DC's funding.

Prior to 2007, Aguilar says, his organization had mainly funded itself through competitive grants. But in the last two years, the group has received a total of $300,000 in D.C. Council earmarks—the same funding source embraced by Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry to fund dubious nonprofits he controlled.

Aguilar says he never lobbied anyone for the noncompetitive money, at least some of which was funneled through Graham's public works committee. "It's a mystery," he explains, when asked how Fiesta DC received the funds, which now account for almost half the group's revenue.

Actually, it wasn't much of a mystery: "Ted was saying, 'You know, I think I can get more money,'" Aguilar says. "He was using his position, his knowledge of the city government. He knows how D.C. works. He has access."

And once those earmarks came through, Aguilar says Loza didn't let anyone forget it. Loza, he says, had a habit of making demands and demanding credit for the group's work. "I think he needed to feel that he has power," Aguilar explains.

A little more than a month ago, two federal agents showed up at Fiesta DC's office. Aguilar would not say what the agents discussed but that the meeting lasted roughly 15 minutes.

After the meeting, the board asked for Loza's resignation.

Today, federal agents arrested Loza at his Columbia Heights home after being indicted for accepting a bribe in connection with taxicab legislation. A search warrant presented at his office indicates that authorities are seeking documents connected to Fiesta DC.

Graham, in an interview today, said he "categorically" denies any quid-pro-quo or wielding any influence in Munoz's employment there.

"It's actually sad, especially for the city and the Latino community," Aguilar says. "In many ways, if we talk about a Latino leader, he's the guy. He was the most powerful guy, there's no question about it."

Aguilar says that Loza was thinking about running for a D.C. Council seat in the future.

Additional reporting by Mike DeBonis

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  • JB

    I would say there is something in DC that corrupts politicians, but that isn't true. It's that politics draws the corrupt and power-hungry so they can dish out favors to their relatives and friends.

    Anyone who wants to get involved with politics should be automatically viewed as a scummy individual.

  • Truth Hurts

    Sounds like Loza's a perfect city council pick. How does this trainwreck score on Gray's new ethics grid?

  • free dc

    Why hasn't anyone mentioned the DC Lottery? Wasn't it Jim Graham who raised the public stink about it? Why did he complain so loudly and what did he want/demand in order to support it?

    I hope that the Feds are looking into the official actions that he, Gray, Kwame, Barry, Alexander and members of their staffs, took in order to support Leonard Manning and Mark Barnes, the persons currently benefiting from the lottery.

    Wasn't Gray's CBC party at Park, Mark Barnes' club? Did he pay to have the event there? Do other members of the Council pay to have their events at this and other venues? What trips, gifts and monies do they receive to support questionable city contracts?

    Hmmmm.... I hope the City Paper will continue to dig and find out what other official actions Graham and others took for illegal purposes.

    If this guy will commit these sort of acts for $1500, what have they done for the tens of millions of dollars involved in the DC Lottery each year?

    I'm just saying...what do you think?

  • Anonymous

    According to thePost this morning, one of the trips Teddy took on someone else's dime was the Ethiopia trip. Who paid for Jim's trip to Ethiopia (I think it was the businesses) what about the other month-long trips Jim takes each summer?

    What about the money that Jim has earmarked for Adams Morgan MainStreet? Have they ever been audited? Can that money be followed?

    Is it just me, or does this seem like just the tip of the iceberg with Jim and Ted.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    The Feds are crawling all over the DC council - wearing wires, tapping phones, raiding offices, etc. Look for dozens of indictments this autumn, involving at least three council members & a dozen or more staff members.

    This investigation is going to be remembered for a long, long time. I'm glad I never had anything to do with those corrupt bastards at Judiciary Square & the Wilson Bldg.

  • joan

    Jim was corrupt when he ran Whitman Walker.

  • Downtown Rez

    Gray's "new ethics grid" is mushy and metric-free, so it's unlikely we'll ever know.

  • Howard Park

    Will Graham resign? He needs to take responsibility. It's clear that the corruption is out of control. I heard that Loza is on leave now "with pay" while hundreds of DC employees are laid off. Just disgusting.

  • JayAre

    The DC Lottery will be the next scandal, those scratch off tickets have become the biggist rip-off of the century.

  • dcblackdaddy

    Gay folk,illegal immigrants, surburbanites and developers govern Washington DC also a few councilmebers and a shady Mayor Andy Flicky.

    If I did not love pussy and freedom so much I would join these crooks and make some cash.

  • BillyBobBush

    dcblackdaddy- Your name says it all. But you will never be able to join us cause your too stupid and ignorant. I guess the irony here is that I will appear just as ignorant, but fruck it, when in DC, do as others do.

    Your disdain for others, gays and other non-blakc minorities, makes you a pretty insecure, pathethic, loser. Not even fifty years ago, Blacks were treated the same way as you treat gays and other minorites. But, since you, and idiots like Bishop Harry, choose hate, bigotry, ignorance, I choose to do the same... frucking tard.

  • JMan

    I remember the years when a man who loved "pussy and freedom so much" was mayor, with a lot of like-minded minions posted in every agency.

    I'll take the "gay folk, immigrants, suburbanites and developers" added into the governance mix any day.

  • Greedy corrupt


    Mr. Jim Graham should know this when he gave such position to non-citizen immigrant with huge criminal recordss.I believe M. Graham has to be questioned also about his relationship with those corrupted selfish robbery man. They hold up a new DCTC hack license to MEET the financial interst of criminals even those we pass the exam over six months ago. This was exactly what I did e-mail to DC Mayor Fenty few days a head to yestaerday. Please, do the right things than the short cut money lundering. thanks

  • SoCali

    Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…..its a duck!

    Ted Loza didn’t take a d’mp without Jim Graham’s say so! Anyone at the Wilson Building can tell you that!

    Ted Loza was once an engaged, sincere and earnest young man. Obviously his intimate association with the utterly corrupt has corrupted him utterly. He is a bagman.

    No wonder Natwar Gandhi has been able to make a career out of looking the other way. What do we expect from a Council that allowed a 50 million dollar theft to go unpunished? I guess this begins to explain a lot about that!

  • babs

    Did someone say that Ted was thinking about running for a Council seat in the future? Well that may be why he got thrown under the bus, lol

  • Pingback: Jim Graham’s Guy Gets Handcuffs: Loose Lips Daily - City Desk - Washington City Paper

  • WDC

    First, every person who really is knowledgeable about DC politics knows that Ted Loza has been Jim Graham's right hand man. Any thing Ted does is authorized, approved, supported, enforced and covered up by Jim. It should not be a question that Jim full had knowledge of this and other bribery activities that I'm sure we will discover soon when the full investigation is complete.

    Second, Yes I agree with a writer earlier the FBI should look at the lottery contract but also look at Mayor Fenty's connections

    Third, Graham should not have Ted on administrative leave collecting a DC Government tax payer funded salary while under this serious charge.

    Fourth, How in the world does a non-US Citizen work as the chief of staff for a DC City Councilmember in seat Capitol of the United States of America... now this is amazing... wait to the Republicans and Conservative Democratics on Capitol Hill hear about this.

  • Thom

    It is is certain Jim Graham will not resign yet. His seat on the Council is the only leverage he has in his plea deal negotiations. I question how a man of such advanced years will fare in the prison system. He is not young and attractive and therefore unlikely to be chosen as the wife of a protector. He is likely to face all manner of group degradations. Jim's focus is most likely on his hope that he is dealing with a federal rap, therefore the federal system. I hope for the sake of an unattractive old man facing gang rape and all kinds of other unimaginable atrocities that his hopes are realized.

    Let us not be too hard on Jim Graham though. He has done much to the LGBT community on his behalf. For instance, these trips have not been mere junkets. Jim has spent hours conducting satisfying research correlating the effects of American currency on pubescent males in developing cultures.

    Comments here and in the Post on the appearance, walking, and quacking of ducks give Jim no credit for his support of animals stemmimg from these trips. I hear he even has some type of Third World house pet.

  • Mike Licht

    Ted Loza sat on the Board of Fiesta DC and his wife worked for the organization, which received a $200,000 Council earmark. Mr. Graham is an honorary board member.

    This is a good time to put some substance in the Council's new ethics code by banning all Council earmarks. It is a recent practice, and a corrosive one.

  • FiestaDC

    This is indeed sad and appalling news, however, this article makes me question the competence of Alfonso Aguilar. He is the executive director of does not know how his organization received $200K in funding, "“It’s a mystery,” he explains, when asked how Fiesta DC received the funds, which now account for almost half the group’s revenue."

    Wow! I think FiestaDC needs a more competent or honest Executive Director.

  • CMAM

    The bigger pic here is that the Feds are trying to bring down one of our very few Latino leaders by using him to get to a bigger fish. I have known Teddy, for over 15 yrs. and he is a man that has stayed true to his culture, values and friends.
    From readings on the Washington Post, most native Washingtonians are green with envy because they cannot admit that a competent immigrant is in such position in this great city, and that is another factor to be considered.
    As for Fiesta DC's board of directors and two-faced executive director, they should take what is left -if any- of the money that mysteriously came to them (without them of course begging for it) and take a one-way trip to hell...
    Out Latino community deserves better that those fake bastards. We deserve a true leader as Ted Loza who makes no distinction on race, color or class.

  • Daddy Grace FIsh Sandwich

    A leader?

    Quite frankly I didn't know who in the funk Loza was until being ARRESTED by the FBI (that's some leadership and example he's setting for the "Latino community.") With all the Latino MS-13 criminal activity spilling over in Ward 1/Columbia Heights I guess the Salvadorian youth knife fighting and stealing out of 7-eleven can just say "I want to be like Ted Loza when I grow-up, I'm just getting an early start vamos rapido!"

    I think Councilmember Kwame Brown has a Latina chief of staff, so don't feel like the City Council isn't tasting the rainbow for ya.

    Still with all the Kwame Brown hookups and freebies (free tickets, free vacays, free fundraiser tickets, invites to NBA draft parties) ...I wouldn't be surprised if a few FOIA requests would reveal bribes there too.

  • Truth Hurts

    @CMAM: Calling Loza a leader who is true to his culture's values is sickening. Moral Latinos would never, never do the things he's done. If you want to associate with Latino role models, run as fast as you can from this guy.

  • dcblackdaddy

    Hey Mrs/Ms BillyBobBush: You are right I do discriminate against gays, illegals and crooked politicians and developers NO MATTER THE COLOR. Hope you know we black pussy loving/virgina devourers have nothing in common with gays and illegals (spanish creeps or tacos).

    Your kind should publish that fact and keep your fight separate, but I will say this I will now promote your gay lifestyle so my three sons can have more pussy,earnings employment wise (you live longer being heterosexual with a pocketful full of condoms when you insert the penis into GOD's fruit the PUSSY.

    So BillyBobbush I ain't mad at you I will just have my sons amass more pussy, more money and real estate.