Loose Lips

Peaceoholics FOIA Goes Nowhere


Peaceoholics co-founders Ron Moten and Jauhar Abraham

Figuring out what the Peaceoholics are doing for their money isn't getting any easier. Curious as to what the anti-gang group has done in return for the millions in District funds they've pulled down, in August, Amin Hassan Muslim submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that went nowhere. Muslim works for Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander as director of constituent services, but says he was acting independently.

The request was lobbed at the Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services (DYRS). Muslim demanded "all DYRS documents related to any and all contracts, M.O.U.'s, or agreements entered into by DYRS and the Peaceoholics from January 1, 2002 thru January 1, 2011." The Fraternal Order of Police submitted a similar request to the Office of Chief Technology Officer regarding funds given to the group via MPD, and took the city to court before it got a response.

Not surprisingly, Muslim got zilch. "They're stonewalling," he says. Four days ago, Muslim was told in a letter that his inquiry came at the wrong time. The "requested records are exempt from FOIA's mandatory disclosure requirements because production of such records would interfere with Council investigations."

Muslim says the investigation they mention is simply an audit request submitted by his boss, and that it shouldn't interfere with a request to see contracts.

Incensed, he fired back an e-mail that forecasts a reckoning now that challenger Vincent Gray has trounced Mayor Adrian Fenty in the primary election:

While I appreciate your letter it is unfortunate that your agency appears to be more interested in suppressing information as opposed to restoring the public trust. I never thought that DYRS would be forthcoming since the material that is being sought will only highlight the mismanagement of public funds. It is sad that DYRS employees who pursued careers in the juvenile justice field with the best intentions have allowed themselves to buy into the idea that the Peaceoholics are to be protected at all cost. At some point I believe that a lot of careers will be adversely affected by a couple of people who made the decision for them that they should stonewall the public.

When or if that time comes, it'll be ugly. The impression some have of the Peaceoholics is that they're a shady organization that cashed in on a corrupt political regime, mercilessly sucking away public funds. The reality is a lot less titillating. The well-intentioned group simply gained the favor of the mayor by addressing a problem that's been daunting the city for awhile: juvenile crime. The problem is they've been given a pass when it comes to being watch-dogged. People like Muslim want to know what they're getting from the Peaceoholics for their tax dollars, and that's never been entirely clear.

When concerns arise about a government contractor, people expect quick concise answers. In this case, they didn't get them. District residents and politicians are likely to remember that.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Skipper

    So a Council staffer is basically threatening agency employees with retribution because they denied his FOIA request?

    Isn't that grounds for an Inspector General ethics investigation?

  • Unprofessional

    How unprofessional... did Mr. Muslim use his DC government email account? This sounds like a direct threat from a Councilmember to DC Agency employees. Definitely not the appropriate way to do business.

    I agree that the public has the right to know more about the Peaceaholics and their city funds, but making threats to employees who may or may not even be involved is not the way to get it.

  • K

    Umm... Explain to me the difference between "shady organization that cashed in on a corrupt political regime" and an organization that got "a pass on... being watchdogged" (or, I might add, filed an IRS 990, a mandatory public document for all 501(c)(3)s, since 2007) and has been spending tax-payer money in a way that "has never been entirely clear"?

    Cause where I come from, that is the definition of "shady." But I guess I've got the wrong impression, thanks for setting me straight!

  • Anderson Lee

    I hope Mr. Muslim is not part of the Somali mafia that has run DC Transportation Department for the past decade. No lack of threatening and agressive behavior in that group.

  • http://.. Marie Jackson


    Who are you a Peaceaholic? What about the fact that this organization has received millions of taxpayers dollars and has failed to provide proof of their services.

    How about an IG investigation on that issue and the District employees who approved this deal.

  • larry

    Yeah, no kidding. This is not about the email from Mr. Muslim and do people truly view it as a threat? DYRS, Peacoholics,the Fenty administration and so many others have been refusing to provide information for years. It is our money, but more importantly it is gross nelgligence - a pattern of it - that they have been aware of for years. Lives have been lost - it's so much more than money.

  • Ward-8

    I wonder where peacecoholics were during that gang violence on U street, oops, thats real work and the money pit has dried up. Its amazing,an organization that have receive millions in tax dollars and not required to show any evidence of work done,how and for what the money was spent other than the huge salaries the ex-mayor enforcer and co-enforcer received. They can't keep hiding the facts and hoping it will go away, its not going to go away.

  • ward4 gets new council member

    Haul their asses off to prison...they have been there before. Why is Amin worng??? What the hell did they do with 10 million dollars in 3 years and where is the paperwork??? Where are the tax filings???

  • Joe

    Mr. Muslim did this on behalf of his boss Yvette Alexander who does whatever Vincent Gray tells her to do. Let's not let the city fall into the hands of these corrupt officials. Write Fenty in November 2.

  • Bill

    "The impression some have of the Peaceoholics is that they’re a shady organization that cashed in on a corrupt political regime, mercilessly sucking away public funds. The reality is a lot less titillating."

    Rend, if this is so, why stonewall? K above hits what you apparently missed.

  • Really?

    Joe said "Mr. Muslim did this on behalf of his boss Yvette Alexander who does whatever Vincent Gray tells her to do. Let’s not let the city fall into the hands of these corrupt officials. Write Fenty in November 2."

    Bahahahahah! Really...Joe...no really?

    Did you type "into the hands of these corrupt officials" so are you implying that the Fenty administration did not engage in "corrupt behavior" i.e. Peaceoholics.

    Please explain?

  • SuperS

    I took what he said; to mean that they will get the information, now that there is a new Mayor.

  • Mike Madden

    Bill —

    Rend didn't miss that, he and Jason Cherkis were the people who reported it a few weeks ago.

  • LOL

    I think this article was good but I miss the normally wonderful quotes we would get from Mr. Moten.