Loose Lips

Health Care Finance COO Fired Over Contract Steering Allegations

The chief operating officer of the Department of Health Care Finance was fired today over allegations that she tried to "steer business towards some minority firms and away from others" in the bidding on the forthcoming contract for the District's health insurance exchange, a new insurance marketplace that's the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform efforts, emails obtained by LL show.

Jennifer Campbell, the COO, was placed on administrative leave early last week by her boss, DHCF Director Wayne Turnage. In emails Turnage sent to senior members of the Gray administration last week, he explains that one contractor, CGI, approached him with allegations that Campbell was trying to force CGI to partner with Darryl Wiggins, a politically connected owner of a document management company. (Wiggins was a political adviser to former Mayor Adrian Fenty and has been the chairman of all three of Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser's campaigns. Wiggins was also part of n team with Mayor Vince Gray's campaign chairwoman Lorraine Green and recently convicted campaign aide Howard Brooks that unsuccessfully tried to win the city's lottery contract.)

Turnage also writes that he'd received an allegation that Campbell was trying to steer another contractor, Compass Consulting, toward a different potential partner, Cedrick Simon.

Campbell could not immediately be reached for comment, and there is no hard proof in the emails to substantiate Turnage's allegations. It's not clear from the emails why Campbell would have favored those individuals. Turnage, who declined to comment, is also asking the Office of the Inspector General to investigate, according to the emails.

Wiggins tells LL he's done nothing wrong and CGI is trying to discredit him and the city's procurement process because it doesn't want to team up with any local businesses. He says CGI approached him about forming a partnership and that he has only met Campbell once, and that was several months ago. Wiggins says he doesn't know what Campbell may have told CGI, but that all of his dealings have been above board.

"I don't deal in political hook ups," Wiggins says. "I don't operate this way."

Wiggins says he's working on similar insurance exchange contracts in other states and it was through one of those partnerships that he was introduced to CGI. Emails between Wiggins and CGO that Wiggins provided to Turnage, and later to LL, don't have any evidence of coercion. The emails do show Wiggins making the case that it was in CGI's best interest to form a joint partnership with local companies (including his own) in order to get the preference points awarded to Certified Business Enterprises.

"As I said to you, during our first meeting, 12% points is insurmountable. Please [remember] that when considering the business value of the [joint venture]," Wiggins wrote to CGI's vice president. (CBE's can receive up to 12 preference points, which translates to knocking 12 percent off the submitted bid.)

Wiggins tells LL he has a stellar business record in document management, and his value to any joint venture would have been much more than just bringing CBE points. The vice president at CGI, Holli Ploog, did not immediately return requests for comment.

In his emails, Turnage says that after meeting with CGI, they "took immediate action" against Wiggins, "terminating contact and any discussion of a partnership." Turnage also writes that Compass "fired one of the employees that the owner was directed to hire." It's not clear if that employee was Simon, who could not be reached immediately for comment.

In his emails, Turnage stresses that the District's bidding process for the insurance exchange must be "above reproach" and that he's ordered his staff to check with other contractors to see if there have been other allegations of shenanigans. Insurance exchanges are a key part of Obama's healthcare overhaul and are supposed to provide a competitive marketplace where the uninsured (and others) can find affordable insurance plans.

Health Care Finance has one of the biggest budgets in city government, at about $2.5 billion a year. Last year, it saw a much higher profile dismissal when Turnage canned former minor mayoral candidate and confirmed receiver of Gray campaign money Sulaimon Brown.

  • Throw The Book

    Oh....Darryl Wiggins was the chairman for Bowser...wow

  • gimmeabreak

    "I don't deal in political hookups", said Wiggins. One and the same who was appointed to DC's Public Employee Relations Board, re: PR 18-0189

  • Jeff

    Wayne Turnage, the next Gray crony to get arrested by the Feds. Brenda Emanuel was the COO, what happened to her?

  • KeepInItReal

    Good for Turnage, if you question it, report it. Let the IG sort out the details. It is clear that Wiggins is a part of the political machine that has caused much embarrassment to the city. This machine, it appears, is immune to whom is in the Mayor's suite. It just goes to show you how ingrained they are in DC.

  • Peter Rosenstein

    I think instead of decrying this I agree we should appreciate that Wayne Turnage is taking the steps he has and reported this immediately letting the IG sort it out. Turnage is right the process on the exchanges needs to be totally above board and transparent.

  • Ward 4 Voter

    It's a matter of time before Queen Muriel Bowser will be exposed in some type of corruption. To hell with lying, self serving, and corrupt politicians. Politics is so dam crooked in the 21st century.

  • RedDead

    bye-bye bowser! no mayor for you!

  • RealDC

    The Old Green Team hanging around to get another bite at the apple, not surprising. Bowser's campaign chair wants the medicare contract because he copies documents? LOL. Go away loser! Bowser and the greenies have not gotten over the fact that their boy lost. Yes Bowser, Lopez, Wiggins, etc. your hero was a zero, get over it and go away.

    This is why Bowser " loves corporate money", she is lazy and will not campaign. Miss Muffet Bowser sitting on a tuffet, getting nothing done in ward 4 and now she wants to deliver the same thing to the city. LOL. Don't fall for it DC, being AA and a woman was not her choice so don't make it a criteria for voting for her. Her record in 4 is dismal. Lets see, Georgia Ave. , Schools, Crime, Businesses, Ethics?? etc. Wake up Ward 4!!

  • womanizer

    I know that's right @RealDC. I hope residents really start trying to get these hot messes out of city government.

  • http://www.ceousa.org Roger Clegg, Ctr for Equal Opportunity

    Why do race, ethnicity, and sex need to be considered at all in deciding who gets awarded a contract? It's good to make sure contracting programs are open to all, that bidding opportunities are widely publicized beforehand, and that no one gets discriminated against because of skin color, national origin, or sex. But that means no preferences because of skin color, etc. either--whether it's labeled a "set-aside," a "quota," or a "goal," since they all end up amounting to the same thing. Such discrimination is unfair and divisive; it breeds corruption and otherwise costs the taxpayers and businesses money to award a contract to someone other than the lowest bidder; and it's almost always illegal—indeed, unconstitutional—to boot (see 42 U.S.C. section 1981 and this model brief: http://www.pacificlegal.org/page.aspx?pid=1342 ). Those who insist on engaging in such discrimination deserve to be sued, and they will lose.

  • KeepInItReal

    Wait, Wiggins was CHAIRMAN of all three of Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser's campaigns? Hmmmm. Where is the political pressure coming from to award this contract to Wiggins company? Email trail? Is LL doing a FOIA? Does LL even care if it involves the darling of the Green Team? Perhaps the Examiner will care.

  • rezOfward4

    It will be interesting to see if that trail leads to Miss Muffett (LOL@RealDC) with her non-responsive, clenched tooth, high and mighty ass.

  • N.E. John

    hee hee heee. The laughs just keep on coming !

    I can hear Bowser sing to the blues: "Sha na na na na na na na na na"

  • RealDC

    For real, the system has to change in DC. Yes, we can keep locking up bamas but we have to change the system. All Wiggins is trying to do is replace Thompson. Then his girl Miss Muffet Bowser will access to his cash from the medicare contract. Miss Muffet Bowser loves "corporate money" and Wiggins will bundle money to her campaign and then we will hear how much money Miss Muffet Bowser is raising, then the Post will start writing stories about how Miss Muffet Bowser is for real..... all BS!! In so many ways Muffet Bowser is worse than the Fully Loaded and HTJ. Think about it! She is a do nothing that will standby and will not lead, read or question anything that her colleagues do. Muffet Bowser is bought and her vote is sold. Her record shows it.

  • peeps4datruth

    I see all the comments and have yet to see anyone ask any questions about the director. These are allegations and we are suppose to live in a country where we are innocent til proven guilty. Everyone has taken the bait of the director and changed the focus away from what we should be asking, "how can a major foreign company contact him directly during non traditional duty hours and he take action without any actual proof of wrongdoing?" Did he even discuss this issue with his recently appointed COO prior to taking action? Two weeks in the job and she has the ability to do that much? Peeps da truth is not where this is being steered. Releasing information to the media was a calculated decision to misdirect attention. Someone please ask the right questions and look in the right direction.

  • hymesb

    Dwiggins...please.....Bill Lightfoot. And that isnt on Muriel....it is on Lightfoot. Funny how people keep skirting around that name. Sorry dude...lets not shoot at the little guy...go for the established ex-city councilman.

  • hymesb

    Again, Darrly Wiggins is a bagman for Lightfoot. Dont sit around and try to crusify the little guys. Lightfoot pushes these buttons. Muriel does not have the tenure to pull this type of crap. Lightfoot does...and he uses these young people as his fronts. Now, you want to blow up Muriel by association with Lightfoots bagman.

    Hey Feds....Lightfoot....Lightfoot.....Lightfoot....put him under the gun and you will really know what the deal is. Lindenfield is an operations guy...Lightfoot is the strategist....and one that rides both sides of the fence on every issue.

  • hymesb

    And Lightfoot.....skrew you and them damn Mamie dolls that you have posted around your very nice home. You skrew people and hide like a punk. Ha ha ha!!!!! I know it is you....son!

  • Brothers

    DHCF needs to be investigated! Period. Recently, they hired a MARYLAND firm, The Chappelle Group, to come in and find money. Okay. Well, I thought DC firms were given first preference.

    From what I gathered the dude who runs the Chappelle Group, Jamal Chappelle, has been slapped with a personal tax lien and has an open case of second degree assault according to the public records of Maryland. Now, if he cannot handle his personal finances why in the world is he trying to find money for DHCF? From other intelligence I gathered the MARYLAND firm used the namesake of Terry Hairston, a former member of the DC School Board who was slain at the hands of two young women in a situation of "pay for play" going bad. This is all according to news reports and such.

    Well, as it turns out Terry Hairston was "good friends" with Marion Barry according to Barry's on the record comment during a hearing at the end 2011 where Chappelle testified and claimed that Terry Hairston was his "brother." REALLY NOW!!!! Chappelle, your long-faced ghetto behind actually put that on the record...what an idiot...that Hairston is your brother. Is this how the Chappelle Group, a Maryland firm, easily obtained the contract at DCHF? Because Jamal Chappelle is supposedly the brother of a past good friend of Marion Barry.

    C'mon Machen, Let's GO Man...Get on this!!

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  • Rubin

    kudos to DHCF director for saying no to old practices & established cronies and cleaning house!!!

    health reform contracts should be awarded to smart dc companies and healthcare experts... not to document management companies!

  • deborah

    Please people don't be fooled another second. I smell a dead RAT, Wayne Turnage use to work for Councilmember David Catania, this is clearly a smoke screen to take the heat off of Mr. Catania and all the alleged contacts that he gave away to his friends. Health Care Finance is full of wrong doings by Mr. Catania, one of the reasons he wants Ghandi fired so bad is because Ghandi's office knows where all the bodies are buried.

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