Oh Irony! Jeff Thompson Alleges Corruption in D.C. Contracting
How's this for irony: the man at the center of the investigation into Mayor Vince Gray's 2010 campaign, which prosecutors say was tainted by "backroom deals" and unreported cash, is alleging there's corruption in District contracting.
Jeff Thompson says the District government turned a blind eye to corrupt contracting practices that shut out his Medicaid managed care organization, Chartered Health Plan, from even being able to bid earlier this month on a contract it has held for years.
While Thompson's beef may or may not have merits, it's still a guffaw-inducing allegation. Why? Thompson allegedly funneled illegal straw donations to Gray's campaign as well as put up $650,000 for an illegal "shadow campaign" effort. He did so, according to what his one-time associate Jeanne Harris said under oath while in court, because Thompson was worried that if Gray's opponent, Adrian Fenty, won, it would be bad for Thompson's contracts with the District.
Thompson's company, D.C. Healthcare Systems, is the parent company of Chartered. It filed a protest with the D.C. CAB on Dec. 17. (Washington Business Journal's Ben Fischer first reported the protest.) Thompson has hired attorney Daniel Abrahams of the law firm Brown Rudnick to represent D.C. Healthcare Systems in front of the CAB. (Thompson's legal troubles have been great for the city's lawyers: Attorney A. Scott Bolden is also working for Thompson on Chartered-related matters, and Brendan Sullivan is representing Thompson in the federal investigation into Gray's campaign.)
Thompson says Chartered, which the city placed into receivership because of a host of financial problems, was unfairly shut out from submitting a bid for the city's Medicaid contract. Abrahams says in the protest, a copy of which you can read here, that both Chartered's city-appointed receiver and an outside law firm hired to assist the city figure out what to do with Chartered have conflict of interest issues: the receiver because his brother used to work at Chartered, the outside law firm because it has ties to two firms that Chartered says are its competitors, including AmeriHealth Mercy, a Philadelphia-based firm that city officials say is close to buying Chartered. Abrahams indicates that the District ignored Thompson's protests about these potential conflicts and was "shocked" to learned that the city-controlled Chartered hadn't bid on the recent Medicaid contract but had instead signed a letter of intent with AmeriHealth, which submitted a bid for the city's Medicaid contract.
Abrahams says the contract solicitation was "tainted by illegal collusive bidding" and should be redone.
"Make no mistake about it; these are not merely the private affairs of a private company that decided not to compete for its own business reasons. The District took control of Chartered under the guise of reforming and revitalizing it; yet it turned the instruments of its control over to agents who had another agenda, and then sat blindly while they pursued that contrary agenda, all to the detriment of the procurement system," Abrahams writes.
You know what else is a detriment to the District's procurement system? Nah ... forget it.