Loose Lips

Team Thomas Not Backing Down

Wanna see two of the District's most high profile lawyers in action? LL's got you covered.

In one corner is superlawyer Fred Cooke Jr., Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry's long-time attorney. In the other, Still Mayor Adrian Fenty's pugnacious attorney general, Peter Nickles.

The issue: Team Thomas, the non-profit started by Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. that his Republican opponent has called a city-funded slush fund and Nickles is investigating.

Nickles asked Thomas for Team Thomas' financial records in a letter last week, and then issued a subpoena for the records on Wednesday when he didn't get them. Cooke, who represents both Team Thomas and the councilmember, says he's advised his clients "not to respond" to the subpoena, and is crying foul at what he calls Nickles' "bullying and ethically questionable tactics."

LL's got a copy of a letter Cooke sent to Nickles yesterday, and the AG's response he sent today.

Cooke starts off saying that Nickles doesn't have the legal authority under the District's "charitable solitications law" to request the sort of records he's request because Team Thomas isn't a charity. "Team Thomas has not held itself out to be either a charity, or a tax exempt charitable organization," Cooke writes. "There are no facts that would tend to support any finding that Team Thomas has made any plea (directly or indirectly) for a contribution ... for any charitable purpose."

Nickles responds, in essence, are you out of your mind, Fred? "On his Councilmember web-site, Mr. Thomas describes Team Thomas as 'a non-profit organization for social change, citizen empowerment, community development, and youth and senior program development.' These stated purposes bring Team Thomas well within the scope of the District's charitable solicitations law," Nickles writes.

Cooke also asks why Team Thomas is being singled out for scrutiny, even though its operations are not "materially different" from any other District non-profit. Nickles responds that Team Thomas is being investigated because, "despite never having had a license to solicit contributions in D.C., it appears to be—and is described by Mr. Thomas as—a charitable donation funded by donations."

Cooke says there appears to be a "another agenda" for Nickle's behavior. But, Cooke adds, Thomas and Team Thomas are "absolutely amenable" to providing the records Nickles asked for in his letter last week—they just don't like the subpoena. In a phone call with LL, Cooke says the point of his letter was to ask Nickles to withdraw the subpoena, which he calls totally unnecessary.

"Stylistically, it's classic Peter Nickles," Cooke says.

In his letter, Nickles essentially says whatever dude—just hand over the documents.

"If we receive the requested information by the close of business today, if won't matter if whether your clients say they are responding to the subpoena or to the letter. If we don't receive the requested information by close of business today, we will petition the Superior Court for enforcement on Monday," Nickles writes. "That's the bottom line."

LL asked Cooke if he planned on complying with the end-of-the-day deadline. Cooke's response: Since Nickles didn't answer his request to withdraw the subpoena, "I'm not sure what I'm going to do as I sit here right now."

Are these two headed for court or what?

Read the letters after the jump.

Cooke's letter to Nickles:

Nickles' letter back to Cooke:

  • Truth Hurts

    If Thomas has nothing to hide and, as he and his lawyer say, is ready, willing and able to voluntarily produce the records that were requested, why hasn't he just done it?

    How much is he paying Cooke for fueling this pissing match? And, more importantly, where's he getting the money from? Cooke's retainer could've bought a whole lotta turkeys (one of Team Thomas' claimed activities) to give needy families, especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner.

  • DC Guy

    I hate to say this, but I am with the AG on this. Thomas needs to give it up.

  • Terry Miller

    The organization does not is not recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization under the federal tax code, that means donations to the organization are not deductable. However, it could still be a not for profit (meaning that organization is providing goods/services/etc.,and do not aim to produce a profit. A good example of this might be an before and after school program at a school. There are a whole lot of non-profit organizations that are not trecognized as 501(c)(3) organizations, because it usually requires some legal help. Also, it is not unusual for organizational charters to be revoked for non-payment of the annual fee. This involves filing a report listing the Board members and the registered agent for the organization, and payment of a small fee. It is like failing to renew you drivers liscense. In other words, simply having a non-profit that is not a 501(c)(3) and also having lost its charter for failure to file a report,
    does not indicate misfeasance or misuse of funds.

  • Truth Hurts

    @ Terry Miller: True, but one can't drive without a valid driver's license. And nonprofits can't operate if they're revoked. CM's make the laws regarding mandatory DCRA licensing and reporting. CM's should obey the laws they pass.

    We won't know whether Team Thomas improperly solicited/spent funds until its books are produced. Thomas can't have it both ways -- claim he stands ready to make his books public at the same time he's not making them public. It's a ploy too clever by half.

  • DCDem

    Love a good courtroom drama.

  • Green Cleveland Park

    I've had my issues with Peter Nickles, but this drama should be Ex. A on why DC voters should vote against having an elected attorney general. At least with appointees, you are likely to get a well-qualified tiger, who probably doesn't have aspirations for higher office. With an elected AG, you'll get a politician and probably not a good one at that. Can anyone say Attorney General Vincent Orange? A go-along-get-along type, as are so many of DC's aspiring council members or mayors, is unlikely to take on someone like a Harry Thomas or a Marion Barry. Plus, an elected AG office will be more expensive -- just what we need more of right now in DC (aka Deficit City).

  • downtown rez

    Amen, Green Cleveland Park.
    An elected political AG is at least as likely to look the other way, or cut a deal, or bank some political capital, or whatever.
    Just like the other elected political Councilmembers seem to be doing right now.
    And that whole "no earmarks" and "no committee chair"/censuring Barry thing?
    The no earmarks thing was and is BS. Earmarks by any other name *ahem Historic Society* are still earmarks. And the censure was only nominal and Barry will have a committee chair again a few months.
    Deals, deals, deals...

  • tired

    Hey Nickels how about the FOIA from Fenty's Admin. Since you are always claiming altheizmers.

  • noodlez

    THIS IS NOTHING MORE THAN GET BACK @ THOMAS WHO WAS SPEARHEADING THE PARKS & REC ILLEGAL CONTRACTS.

    NOTHING MORE NOTHING LESS THAN SOME 11TH HOUR BULLSHIT TO TRY TO TAKE SOMEONE OUT WITH YOU.

    FAGGIE FENTY SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF HIMSELF! STILL REARING THAT WHITE SIDE OF HIM THAT DIDNT PLAY WELL HERE IN W.D.C.

    THIS IS THE CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF THE MAN TRYING TO HOLD THE BROTHER DOWN!

  • Frederick Douglass

    Is there a separation of powers issue here? Can the District's Attorney General, a representative of the Executive Branch of the District government, make legal claims against an entity under the direction of a member of the District's Legislative branch of government? Should the AG's legal concern actually be forwarded to the District's Inspector General or the Council of the District of Columbia's Auditor?

  • downtown rez

    @noodlez
    Yeah, right. By the way, how's that investigation into "parks and rec illegal contracts" coming along? Weren't the results due out last July?

  • Tformation

    @ dtrez.....

    The investigation is taking so long because Nickles (the same one requesting info now) has told banneker/fenty et al to refuse to cooperate, to refuse to answer questions, to refuse to turn over documents, to refuse to respond to the supeona.... You know, sort of like what he's accusing HTJr of doing.

    It's funny how when HE thinks something should be "investigated", he thinks everyone should jump.... But when EVERYONE else has question or concerns about how something was handled, it's because none of us know what were talking about....

    Hopefully, this fool won't be responsible for people turning his job into an elected position because of his and Fenty's using this position for personal use. Having this become elected would mean the person might be beholden to ACT the same way, just with a different master. If anything, Council should pass a law that allows them to retake their confirmation vote under extreme circumstances (with possibility of losing job if not confirmed again) Maybe that will keep them honest.

  • downtown rez

    The investigation is taking so long because Nickles (the same one requesting info now) has told banneker/fenty et al to refuse to cooperat
    Really? That sounds like obstruction. So, why no charges for that?

    This is past old, past stale. It's political farce.

  • noodlez

    COME ON MAN! IT ALL STARTED WITH THE PARKING TIX AND ESCALATED FROM THERE.

    THE VINDICTIVENESS AND BITCHYNESS FENTY AND NICKLES EXIBITS LEADS ME TO BELIEVE THAT THEY WERE IN THE DRAG RACE LAST WEEK. WE JUST DIDNT RECOGNIZE THEM IN ALL THEIR GETUP.

    60 DAYS LEFT IN YOUR ADMIN AND YOU REACHIN FOR SOME SHIT LIKE THIS? CHILD PLEEZE.

  • downtown rez

    Slush funds, funneling taxpayer money paramours, non-earmark earmarks, Kenneth Star-style never-ending investigations that never turn up anything, "unvetted" staff, race and gender baiting, mistakes blamed on underlings...
    So, what else is new in this One City?

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  • Reginald

    Councilman Thomas, built in the same mold
    as those the people who ran this city in
    the 80s and early 90s, Thomas is a crook and
    A hypercrite! He screamed bloddy murder if Mayor
    Fenty sneezed! Now he cries foul about coming
    I hope they dog him until they get him!

  • Lottery

    Any news on the Inspector General's investigation into soon to be Mayor Gray's role in bypassing city contracting procedures to get his cronies the city's lucrative lottery contract?

    I predict it won't turn out well for the soon to be mayor.

  • noodlez

    @DREZ "So, what else is new in this One City?"

    UHH THAT WOULD BE MAYOR VINCENT GRAY!

    that was too easy:)

    UNA CIUDAD.

  • downtown rez

    Well, yes.
    That's my point.
    All of the stuff I mentioned is foolishness from his past year as council chair.
    Everything old is new again.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Drez- while I completely agree that Thomas and team are doing something extremely shady, I don't think it's fair to lay blame on Gray for this.

    Also: "Slush funds, funneling taxpayer money paramours, non-earmark earmarks, Kenneth Star-style never-ending investigations that never turn up anything, “unvetted” staff, race and gender baiting, mistakes blamed on underlings" is really attributes more appropriate to Fenty's administration.

    I actually think Nickles should tear into this organization and actually do what an AG was supposed to be doing all along.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    let me also add that Karim, Fenty, Skinner, and Nickles, should eventually be in jail from their practices. While I doubt that this will ever happen, they should be in there. It also sounds like "Tommy" wants to join them.

  • Truth Hurts

    @ ABM: Re Thomas, we all should leave Fenty/Gray out of discussions re Team Thomas. Tomorrow's election day and Thomas still hasn't produced the records he promised the public. Speaks for itself.

  • tired

    Hey Lottery, you my friend are bringing up the same bs that was spouted out in the primary. When you agree to investigate Fenty and the theft of taxpayer dollars then we have one on the lottery.

  • downtown rez

    If anyone thinks the last 4 years were hard, you ain't seen nothing yet.
    Revenues continue to decrease, the stock market and the real estate market are stagnant, consumer spending is flat, and the republicans (gag) are about to be your new bosses.
    This is the backdrop against which Vincent "One City" Gray will take office. And he's doing so by running to the left. And he's doing it by associating himself with deadbeats and criminals (Boreano, barnes, Charles).
    It's a losing proposition. The Feds will eat us alive. And you will hurt for it.
    Hell in a handbasket. But at least your schools and parks are in better shape going into this mess.

  • downtown rez

    ABM
    Gray was chair of the council when those things I mentioned were perpetrated by the council.
    He is responsible. There is no way around that.

  • Nunya

    Adrian Fenty must have a tiny penis a la Brett Favre. How else an you explain downtown rez's ability to still talk wth Fenty's d*ck in his mouth.

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