Chartered Health Throws $30,000 Open-Bar Event Despite Receivership
The Medicaid managed care organization owned by Jeff Thompson, which the city seized control of two months ago because of its shaky finances, threw a black-tie gala last night that cost about $30,000 and featured an open bar, according to the city-appointed receiver.
Chartered Health Plan, a publicly funded health provider that serves about 110,000 low-income District residents, had the party at the THEARC in Ward 8 to screen a new documentary playing on the Discovery Channel that highlights the disparity in healthcare based on sex, race, and income. Chartered was featured in the film, says city-appointed receiver Daniel Watkins, and was airing the film as part of a community outreach effort as well as an opportunity to present awards to some of Chartered's service providers. Several hundred people attended, Watkins says.
Watkins says the idea for last night's shindig have been in the works for a while and he "didn't see a reason" to cancel the event even though the company is currently in receivership because of its dismal finances. "I didn't see people overdrinking," Watkins says, adding that he did not know exactly how much the party cost, but estimates that it was about $30,000.
On Monday, city officials announced that a Philadelphia-based firm was close to buying Chartered. The company is currently owned by Thompson, the alleged financier of a shadow campaign the feds says improperly spent $700,000 towards getting Mayor Vince Gray get elected. Thompson's home and offices were raided by the FBI earlier this year, but he's not been charged with any crime.
The District seized control of Chartered in October, after an internal audit revealed financial irregularities ranging in the seven-figure range. That audit is still not complete, and details of those irregularities aren't yet available.
Thompson used to be one of the biggest financiers in city politics, and any black-tie, open-bar event celebrating Chartered would have likely attracted a large number of D.C. officials in past years. But with his current troubles with the feds, Thompson is persona non grata with most District pols. Man-about-town Eugene Kinlow says he attended the event and noted that the only elected official in attendance was Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, whose ward includes THEARC, where the party was thrown. Kinlow says Thompson's name was even off limits from the events speakers: save for one.
"He-who-shall-not-be-named was only mentioned by Marion Barry," he says.
Screengrab courtesy of Charles Parsons