Loose Lips

Graham Gets Subpoena Power in CYITC Probe, Mayor Displeased

Today Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham's Human Services Committee voted 4-0 to give the committee (or, more accurately, Graham) subpoena power in his ongoing probe of the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, the publicly funded nonprofit that former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. used to do all of his stealing.

In a statement, Graham says he needs subpoena power to find out who helped Thomas steal more than $350,000 in public money through the trust. Graham's committee released a copy of a report into the CYITC today, which found that Thomas' "criminal actions could not have occurred without the actions of Trust staff and perhaps others," but doesn't say who those people are.

Graham's report also dings Mayor Vince Gray, noting that that it was under his watch that a $400,000 earmark for "youth baseball" directed toward the trust found its way into the Budget Support Act when he was D.C. Council chairman. Every other earmark for the CYITC that year named the specific group the council or mayor wanted funded.

"What this means is that all of the other specific earmarks were formally approved by a Council vote. Those responsible for close supervision of the BSA were surely aware of this anomaly," the report says.

But a former council staffer familiar with the budget process while Gray was chairman, who requested anonymity because the staffer was not authorized to speak on the record, says the "youth baseball" earmark wouldn't have raised any red flags because Gray and his staff would have assumed the CYITC would competitively bid the grant—rather than just dole it out to a pass-through organization of Thomas' choosing, which is what wound up happening.

The Gray administration is also unhappy with the council giving itself subpoena power to investigate an entity that several sitting councilmembers, including Graham, used in the past to direct earmarks. "Given questions about the Council’s relationship with the Trust, I believe these reviews should remain in the hands of the Attorney General and the US Attorney," Gray said in a statement.

His attorney general, Irv Nathan, tells LL that Graham's investigation is "inappropriate" and could interfere with the other probes going on. Nathan points out that the D.C. auditor, which is the council's own watchdog, is also conducting an investigation. That brings the total number of investigations into the CYITC, including Graham's, to four.

Graham brushes off concerns of possible interference, saying he's "at the end" of this investigation and only has a few key questions left of a few key people before his investigation wraps up. He also scoffs at the notion that he and the council couldn't investigate the CYITC because they'd used it for earmarking. "I'll defend every single earmark I gave, because they were damn good earmarks," says Graham.

Graham adds that since his report went public, he's had several people reach out to him eager to talk rather than waiting to be subpoenaed.

  • StrangeFruit

    According to the WAPO, CM Wells, not Gray is the one who really got dinged by Graham's report, and here the direct quote:

    “Those responsible for close supervision of [the budget] were surely aware of this anomaly,” the report states."

    Graham pointed the finger straight at CM Wells, who had direct oversight of the agency's budget, not Gray.

    The WAPO also reported that Wells said he recalls meetings with Gray “directly relevant to these issues" in 2007 and 2008. But Wells, the report states, now “has an uncertain recollection of what was said.”

    How in the hell can Wells remember meeting with the Gray, but not the conversation? Is he sure he met with Gray or was it Orange, Brown1, Brown2, Red, White or Blue?

    Councilman Wells is infamous for blaming his colleagues to deflect dirt from his great saviour--Councilmartyr Saint Tommy Wells--persona manufactured by the media.

    Sudermn always conveniently avoids disclosing all the facts when Councilmember Wells may take a hit. I'm starting to believe he has some kinda of personal relationship with Wells.

  • B

    For the followup, please get Mr. Nathan or his spokesperson to explain how a city council investigation with subpoena power would interfere with investigations by other entities. I'm willing to hear him out on that, but am having a hard time understanding his reasoning. In context, there are three other investigations going on. Why do they not already interfere with each other? If they don't, why is this one special?

    Similarly, why should the District's executive branch have authority to investigate an external nonprofit that both the executive and legislative branches had dealings with, but which is external to both branches? If "used in the past" is the criterion for establishing bias, why isn't Mr. Gray similarly biased--either through his work as council chair or as mayor? Did the mayor sign these budgets, thereby implicating the executive? Or were the budgets passed by a previous round of the council, lead by the now-mayor?

    Obviously, I'm having a hard time with the justifications provided here. Little help?

  • NE John

    you better get back honky cat,
    living in the city ain't where its at

  • http://btolson1@verizonnet.com Susan

    Graham is an idiot. It is extremely dangerous for him to be a Councilmember. The concepts of BSAs came from David Catania. All of them need to go!!

  • InTheMixx

    Far too many investigations going on over the same subject. Why did not the city just wait until the U.S. Attorney's office completed their probe and move from there? It seems like a redundancy which, as it stands, doesn't come without a price tag.

  • Hal9000

    Another opportunity for Graham to put himself in the spotlight, regardless of the consequences. His blundering around in a criminal matter could cause problems for the law enforcement organizations that are conducting a real investigation. Given his own ethical lapses, Graham is hardly in a position to be investigating someone else.

  • Expecations

    Jim is still "wiping" his you know what, from those payments to his Aide, AND Jim's repeated financial assistance to that Aide, for the Aide's girlfriend's abortions, home downpayment, etc, YET Jim knew a whole lot about his Aide's personal life, BUT knew nothing of the Aide's employment life FOR HIM? so he says; Jim your underwear are permanently stained, wiping repeatedly wont make the stain go away as well of you never reporting the attempted bribe, as you claim it was, from the same Aide;
    Jim all of sudden knows how to conduct an investigation: MY MY!!

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    Granted Thomas,jr. needs to be dealt with; however, unfortunately, Jim Graham needs to get his own corruption issues straight. The pot calling the kettle black is a hard pill to swallow.

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