Loose Lips

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Jim Graham

Jim Graham

Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham will have one less problem to worry about in his coming re-election fight. After deciding that Graham can't be sued for his role in a botched Metro development deal, a federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed against him over it.

Since the tortured tale of Graham, Metro, and the D.C. lottery looks to be done, let's remember where it all started. In 2008, Graham, then a member of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board that administers Metro, allegedly offered to back a lottery contract bid by a member of development firm Banneker Ventures if the company dropped out of a Metro development deal to make room for one of Graham's campaign donors, developer LaKritz Adler.

After a WMATA investigation found that Graham broke the authority's conduct rules, the actions earned Graham a reprimand from the D.C. Council and the loss of his oversight of city alcohol regulations. Last year, Banneker sued Graham, Metro, and LaKritz Adler for $100 million for allegedly interfering with its development deal.

After today's opinion, though, the construction firm won't be collecting anything. In her opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer writes that Graham's action while on the Metro board fall under sovereign immunity protections, meaning he can't be sued in his personal capacity for actions he took while he was on the board.

"It is important that WMATA officials be free to make complex decisions regarding large real estate projects, which are often controversial, without fear of suit," Collyer writes.

Even if Graham did behave inappropriately, Collyer writes that there were other remedies outside of Banneker's lawsuit to be used against him, including the Council reprimand and the possibility of Graham losing his next election.

Banneker's attorney didn't respond to a request for comment. In a statement, Graham says that he's "very pleased" by the judge's ruling.

"We can now put this issue behind us, so we can move forward to serve the Ward and the City," Graham says.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Typical DC BS

    Funny how none of the local prosecutors bothered to investigate Ms. Graham.

  • Tight Lips

    Welp, so long for Bryan Weaver and Grosso! They definitely are the biggest Losers in this situation.

    Graham will win, Weaver has dropped out an election ONCE AGAIN.

    Grosso will not be on the council once his term is up lol.

  • truth hurts

    Google Jim graham and Chuck Thies. Read LL's 2/17/13 story quoting Thies as advising Graham on how to spin Loza's bribery arrest as Graham was up for reelection in 2010. Pretty similar to Thies/Gray approach now.

  • Just Me

    Tight Lips,

    You seem like you work for Graham as every post you make is about why he will win and why everybody else is a loser.

    Bottom line is the judge decided Graham couldn't be prosecuted, not that he didn't deserve to be investigated, prosecuted and put away for his many misdeeds.

    As a taxpayer I would like for our tax dollars not to have to go to attorneys to investigate our Councilmember every few months like they have had to do with Graham.

    Graham is the least liked Councilmember by his peers and has lost any effectiveness because of his personality and track record.

    You greatly underestimate how much people have come to dislike Mr. Graham and his tactics.

  • bow tie observer

    sovereign immunity, king for a day.

  • Tight Lips

    @JustMe yea I work for every campaign in the city! Get real man, that "you must work for" line is so cliche when it comes to this website. Just face the facts, Weaver's job in politics is to announce he is running, get his agenda across to another candidate who has a better chance, and then to drop out the race and criticize his former opponent.

    He has executed the same routine for the last couple elections and its getting old.

    The biggest hurdle that Graham had was the investigation. Now that it's dropped, there isn't enough evidence not to vote for Graham.

  • Just Me

    Tight Lips,

    There wasn't enough evidence to prosecute Graham. There are more than enough reasons not to vote for him. What I haven't heard from you is one reason to vote for him, you just proclaim him winner by default.

    I know lots of people in the Ward that are very happy this is a two person race for the primary and who will be voting for Brianne Nadeau in the primary. Graham is extremely vulnerable because despite all his Grahamstanding he doesn't have a whole lot he can show as results of his work, when put in context of how much every part of the city has grown in the past 15 years.

  • Tight Lips

    "Grahamstanding he doesn't have a whole lot he can show as results of his work, when put in context of how much every part of the city has grown in the past 15 years."

    If he hasn't done much in the past 15 years, then why has he been on the council for so long?

    That same question can be applied to Vince Gray, Muriel Bowser, Mary Cheh, Jack Evans, Anita Bonds, Yvette Alexander, McDuffie and Grosso.

    What have they honestly done that people know for a fact they put together? I am not talking about a project they picked up and finished. I am talking about from start to end it was their pride & joy....

    If you look at it like that, none of those CMs have done anything. Everything was rolled out prior to their terms and they just so happened to be on the council overseeing the ward when the projects were being executed.

    Point blank, Graham is on the inside looking out and Brianne has to get to that point. Brianne doesn't have ANY endorsements, or backing from anyone except Weaver and Grosso. That isn't enough to beat Jim Graham.

    Weaver drops out every election, so his opinion on the matter will not count.

    Unless people in Ward 1 hate Graham as much as the city hated Fenty going into the election, he will not lose.