Loose Lips

Swing Vote Wells Claims He Was “Duped” Over Jeff Thompson Payment

Ward 6 Councilmember and mayoral hopeful Tommy Wells says he thinks he was tricked into voting in favor of increasing reimbursement rates with a company run by alleged Vince Gray shadow campaign backer Jeff Thompson.

"I do feel duped," Wells told LL Wednesday. Wells, who provided the swing vote on the 7-6 Council decision to allocate $32 million to cover payments to UnitedHealthcare and Thompson's Chartered Health Plan, now claims that he would never have voted for the money if he had known about the shadow campaign.

Wells says he wasn't familiar with Thompson when the payments, meant to end a dispute over dental reimbursements to Thompson's Medicaid company, went in front of the Council for a final vote on June 14, 2011. (LL can't help but noting that a previous LL did write about the dispute and Thompson's political connections around the same time.)

David Catania, then the chairman of the D.C. Council's health committee, tried to convince Wells not to vote for the deal. But Wells, who holds the rare distinction of being a District pol who never received money from Thompson, figured that Catania was acting out of some personality conflict with Thompson.

In a lengthy joint statement to LL, Attorney General Irv Nathan and Department of Health Care Finance director Wayne Turnage defended a settlement with Thompson that was a factor in the increased rates. The agreement, now under federal investigation, was vetted by an outside firm and made in the District's best interests, according to the agency heads.

"If Chartered's claims had gone to trial at the [Contract Appeals Board], the District would likely have faced judgments in the range of $20 million," the statement reads.

Mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro took a different route, accusing Wells of looking for anything that will boost his mayoral run. In a conversation with LL, Ribeiro squealed to mimic a desperate Wells looking for an issue. “I’m drowning, I’m drowning," Ribeiro says. "Save my campaign.”

"He’s not so much a dupe as he is a dope," Ribeiro adds.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • noodlez

    WHY DOES EVERY STORY WILLY EARL PENS THAT CONTAINS JEFF THOMPSON HAVE TO INCLUDE A DIRECT CONNECTION TO MAYOR GRAY? AS IF THIS IS THE ONLY THING THOMPSON WAS INVOLVED IN INVOLVED IN???

    THE STORY IS ABOUT THOMPSON AND WELLS SO WHY DOES THE STORY ASK FOR A SHADOW CAMPAIGN BLURB IN THE INITIAL GRAPH?

    SLIM YOU REALLY NEED TO CHECK YOURSELF.

  • drez

    Because that's what the average person best knows Thompson for. Given the ongoing investigation of him and Gray it is the context people think of him in.

  • What will Gray do next?

    Once Catania wins in the general? Retire? Consult? Date a wealthy millionaire?

  • watchdog

    Okay, Now that you know this information Mr. Wells you and your team and other councilmember should put two and two together. where do the Medicaid payments come from / which agency? And who is the Director of the medicaid agency /Health Care Finance. Who hand picked that director? Look at that agency numbers,data and contracts....especially recent contracts. That agency is top heavy with managers making lots of money doing very little. You are a SW investigate the waiver services. Then take a close look at DYRS that director is a big bully and uses his staff for scapegoats/ his data is flawed...do your research and investigate. Who hand picked that director? Then look at DCOA/ADRC its a hot mess....again investigate ask questions.....Who hand picked that director as well...you want to when the election then I suggest you investigate all three of those agencies do your research on how they were hired and who they protect....you can expose much in those agencies and it will be connected with others....Do your research.

  • Ivy

    Martin Moulton (Dez) Why do you hate Gray so much?

  • Ivy

    Sorry. Martin Moulton (Drez Blogger Name) why do you hate Gray so much?

  • HUAlum71

    At IVY #'s 5 and 6.
    That is an excellent question.
    If I hadn't been so inundated with disgust I would have asked it myself. Now however I just think it's funny.
    Glad to see the reaction Mr. Moulton has on other commenters.

  • All I wanna know is

    Where did 300 mil, aka 300 very large, go, per year?

  • Anonymous,Too

    "Wells says he wasn't familiar with Thompson when the payments... went in front of the Council for a final vote on June 14, 2011."

    Then what was he doing voting on something and somebody "he wasn't familiar with" pray tell??? Doesn't he have any staff that can inform him???

    He talks out of both sides of his mouth about ethics. This is the guy who, when buttonholed about receiving contributions from EastBanc developers (winners in the Hine School/Eastern Market deal), admitted that he had been "donated to" by EastBanc after they won the deal.

    What a phony baloney hypocrite.

  • Ward4

    THEY ALL TAKE CONTRIBUTIONS FROM DEVELOPERS....nOW WHAT?

  • Peter Rosenstein

    Wells claimed he was duped- well guess this says something about Wells. As Mayor, should he win, he won't be able to use that excuse for the things he does.

    Jeff Thompson has been involved in DC politics for years- was a man about town, on the Board of Trustees of UDC, was contracting with the City, so it makes it hard to believe Wells wasn't familiar with him and his background and didn't bother to find out before an important vote.

    Now maybe the vote was actually the right thing to do and had Wells done his homework he may have still voted that way. One has to question whether his statements today are simply for political expediency.

  • dan

    How can you believe this guy. Wells be gone from this council.

  • Ward 6 Resident

    Let me get this straight, Wells wants citizens of DC to vote for him to be mayor and he doesn't do his homework on vital decisions on the city council, then claims that he was "duped". Integrity vs. Dumb Ass?

  • dan

    Wells is the joke that WaPo and CP want to be Mayor of the Nation's Capitol. Give me a break!

  • http://discturm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    Does Pedro Ribeiro become a bigger jackass every day, or has he just stopped taking medication? You know he wouldn't have the balls to say the kinds of things to people's faces that he says in press releases and through comments to reporters. It sounds like he has some serious mental problems.

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