Loose Lips

Thomas Staffer’s Emails: Show Me the Money

Attorney A. Scott Bolden broke some news on Newstalk last Friday by divulging that he's now representing Neil Rodgers, a former aide to embattled Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.

Bolden said Rodgers isn't a target of the feds, but a "witness" in a "broad" investigation. Bolden also said the feds have been asking questions about the Children's Youth Investment Trust Corporation and its grantees. The CYITC was the vehicle, according to the District attorney general, through which Thomas funneled more than $300,000 in city money to another organization, Langston 21, and then into his own pockets. (CYITC boss Ellen London did not respond to a request for comment.)

It just so happens that LL has an old FOIA response with some of the emails sent between Rodgers and staff at the CYITC. Here's a few things that jump out:

1) Rodgers spent much of his time making sure that the CYITC had all the paperwork it needed so Langston 21 could get paid. He sent budget overviews and quarterly reports to CYITC. "How soon can we get the first check," Rodgers wrote soon after the initial grant was awarded to Langston 21. When the money appeared to be held up, Rodgers sent emails to CYITC staff asking what other paperwork they needed to make the money flow.

2) CYITC did not appear picky when it came to writing large checks. No receipts were required by the organization to prove that Langston 21 was doing the good work it said it was. Instead, all Rodgers had to submit were vague quarterly reports that lacked any specifics, and, if the AG is telling the truth, were all made up. For instance, here's how Rodgers said Langston 21 spent $96,00 from July to September of 2008 to help 182 youth learn sports:

  • Supplies, $6,000.
  • Indirect cost: $9,600.
  • Copying and registration information: $1,000
  • Salaries and wages: $72,400
  • Green fees, cart rentals, club house access: $7,000

3) Millicent West, now the director of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, emailed with Rodgers a few times to discuss what paperwork Langston 21 had to submit in order to get its money. West was CEO of the CYITC during the time the organization was funding Langston 21. West did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

4) Rodgers routinely kept Thomas in the loop via email. Right after Rodgers asked London when the first check was going to be available, Rodgers wrote Thomas: "Their general counsel is checking to see if two signatures are enough or whether they need board approval, due to the amount. Am awaiting her call-back with confirmation, but she is aggressively working on it now."

  • oversight, please?

    why is jim graham not mentioned in this piece? he has oversight of cyitc. you are letting him off the hook. what, does he need to turn down a "cash payment" to get mentioned?

  • Truth Hurts

    Seems like too little, too late. Every CM who believes in good government or who cares at all about the public's trust in its government must take strong and decisive action. That goes for one city as well.

    Should've happened long ago.

  • tony

    @Truth Hurts, I finally agree with. Jim Graham and Jack Evans must go. You right, it should have happen a long time ago. What a good way to mend the racial divide in this city.

  • StrangeFruit

    Well said Tony!

  • Drez

    Interesting how Rodgers was involved in this. He's been around DC Gov for forever. Also interesting how West went along and got along at CYITC and then moved in to direct HSEMA.
    Lots of money federal money there.

  • Brahmin

    I agree maybe we should get entirely new council.

  • Calvin H. Gurley

    Councilmember Thomas did not invent this practice of funneling money.

    Just like the media is twisting your and “new comers to the District” minds about CFO Gandhi and the Harriet Waters Tax & Revenue Scandal. The Tax & Revenue scandal investigation revealed that the stolen money went as far back to 10 to 15 years without being detected. Harriett Waters was a low-end staffer during that time [beginning of the 15 year period] before she rose into position to operate in her management role that afforded her the controls that her prior thief/manager schooled her about.

    That means, the prior managers[of Harriet Water’s job] who used the same system that Harriett Waters got caught with – got away with millions during those first 10 years at the Tax & Revenue Office! No Wash.Post/Examiner coverage on this caper.

    Likewise, we forget Councilmember Tommy Wells…doing the same Harry Thomas routine.

    I give credit to the 2 blogger whose entry I am repeating in this discussion.

    Part I
    During the 3+ years of construction on H St for the streetcar, Tommy Wells gave Joe Englert almost 500K to help his businesses and a few of his friends businesses on H St. It's been reported in City Paper that Englert owns about 7 or 8 bars, restaurants and clubs just on H St.

    Englert received the taxpayers' subsidies (in 2008, 09 & 10) via his fake non-profit-- H St Cooperative-- which he and two Atlas Theater employees founded just 3 months prior to receiving Wells' earmarks. The press release also report that one of the founders was a member of Wells' 2010 re-election committee and their so-called non-profit, H St Coop, was “Not in Good Standing” with the Government of the District of Columbia.

    Part II
    Wells earmarked and lobbied for H Street Cooperative to be handed $428,000 in non-competitive grants during his first term as the Ward 6 councilman. Jennifer (Jen) DeMayo, a co-founder of H Street Cooperative, grant signee and a direct beneficiary, was a member of Wells’ 2010 re-election committee, according to Wells’ official blog.
    The other founders of the non-profit cooperative include another Atlas Theater employee, Patrick Stewart, and entrepreneur Joe Englert, who, according to the, Washington Business Journal owns eight after-hours establishments in Wells’ ward on the H Street NE corridor.
    The FOIA disclosed that H Street Cooperative was incorporated as a non-profit only four months prior to receiving its first $190,600 of multi-year grants from DDOT via Wells. DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ (DCRA) records indicate that H Street Cooperative never filed any of the required business reports and was “Not in Good Standing” with the District of Columbia when awarded the grants.
    Is the Washington Post and Examiner only going after Harry Thomas and refuse to use the same repeated in your face, in your mind daily barrage of pressure to have Tommy Wells indicted by the D.C. prosecutor’?

    Tommy Wells did not buy an Audi SUV. However, did Tommy Wells receive some financial gift from Patrick Stewart or Joe Englert? I guess the FBI and the IRS have to do an inventory of Tommy Wells’ house to find that answer.

    Wake up Trusting Citizens.

    Calvin GURLEY
    your next WARD 4 Councilmember

  • leeshato


    The council needs clear cut rules that leave no openings for money to be funneled to anything but the needs of the citizens of the DC.I will vote for you if you promise to do that once elected.

    ward 4