Loose Lips

Attorney General Not Swayed by Confidential Jeff Thompson Evidence

What does U.S. Attorney Ron Machen know that District attorney general Irv Nathan doesn't? That's the question that motivated one part of the January agreement between the two to share Office of the Attorney General-held documents about a city settlement with shadow campaign mastermind Jeff Thompson's company. The evidence that Machen offered to share with four OAG officials in exchange for more documents was expected to be so damning that the agreement required District officials to wait 90 days before discussing them.

So what did Nathan think of the purportedly explosive revelations? Eh.

In letters between the two obtained by LL through the Freedom of Information Act, Nathan writes about how unimpressed he was with the evidence Machen hoped would convince him to provide more city-held documents. Nathan handed over the extra files anyway.

"We are doing so despite the fact that nothing your office shared with us demonstrates or comes even remotely close to demonstrating the commission of a crime or fraud by any District official or employee or any abuse of the attorney-client privilege," Nathan wrote on Jan. 22.

A baffled Machen wrote back on Feb. 10 that he couldn't understand how  Nathan wasn't worried about the evidence he'd seen.

“Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine how you and your colleagues were not deeply concerned by the information we provided you," Machen wrote. "Given your role as the District’s chief lawyer, I can understand your optimism that the actions of D.C. officials were entirely legitimate, but I cannot understand your failure to recognize evidence of potential wrongdoing by those officials.”

It's worth wondering how much of these ostensibly private letters were written for the benefit of the public. Nathan, who's apparently become so used to FOIA requests that he complained about the District's "very liberal" open records law in one letter, accuses Machen in a Feb. 21 letter of trying to distort the public perception of the evidence OAG representatives saw via his own letters. To counter it, Nathan asks Machen to break the confidentiality portion of their agreement and allow OAG officials to reveal what the U.S. Attorney's Office showed them.

“Since we were shown virtually nothing about [redacted], and since what we were shown does not relate to any criminal wrongdoing by any D.C. official, it is hard for us to comprehend how public disclosure of what was revealed to us could have any adverse impact on any future criminal proceeding," Nathan writes. "Failure to allow us to disclose our perception, while leaving your characterizations in the public record, will only create a seriously misleading, distorted picture of what we were shown."

Spokesmen for the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Office of the Attorney General both declined to comment.


Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • REALDC

    More evidence that "Shadow Campaign" investigation was BULLSHIT!! Where are the charges? Where is the indictment?

    Bowser ran on "believing" the US Atty campaign. So her weak primary win is BOGUS!!

    Thanks Ward 3 and Ward 2 for believing in the bias Washington Post, Fenty loving US Atty. and a ding-bat, low performing Ward 4 Council member.

    Really Ward 3? For a ward to be so prosperous and educated, y'all motivation for voting is baffling. Maybe just racist. Yeah, y'all will vote for African-American candidates but the ones that are "out of touch", "uppity", and simply "bourgie". Fenty, Biddle and Bowser, all fall in that category. None of these candidates ever do well in the eastern part of Ward 4, ward 5, ward 7 or ward 8. But they do well in ward 3?? Come on, "Black candidates that don't appeal to Black people" but white people love them....hilarious! SNL or Dave Chappelle should do a skit on these clowns running for DC office.

    "DC Proud".... what is that dumb nonsense??

    What is sad is that Vince Gray's NAME was dragged through the mud and destroyed. That is BAD because if he is not charged, then this November General Election has been TAINTED and unfairly influenced by the Federal Government. This is not Iraq or Afghanistan, where Government influenced is necessary. This is DC!!..... the last colony.

    Bowser directly benefitted from slandering of Gray. She should NOT even be considered for Mayor.

    Catania is BEST choice for a LONG list of reasons!

    So how does Mayor Gray restore his reputation?

    Just like in the movie Django, the worst rotten character in the movie was Sam Jackson's character. Thanks US Atty.

  • john labonte

    The dust-up over politics clouds the fact that this controversy involves something besides public figures (mayors and attorneys) with too-big egos. It involves public money, and the people entrusted with it. Attorney General Nathan is as certain of the blamelessness of his staff attorneys as Machen is of the corruption of public officials.

    Yet this same Attorney General does not hesitate to ratoify rumor, gossip and unproven accusations against some of his most talented employees in the Child Support Services Division, and issue to them dispensations ranging from open-ended administrative leave to letters of termination. Oddly, he laments the broadness of statutes ranging from the Freedom of Information Act to the DC Whistleblower Protection Act. Has the legislative intent of the 2009 Whistleblower Amendment Act been forgotten--namely the two-decade long rip-off of nearly $50 million from the Office of Tax and Revenue, some of which occured on the watch of the Nathan-defended Natwar Gandhi/, and which was finally exposed (lest it be forgot) by a bank examiner in the state of Maryland?

    DC Whistleblowers and employees concerned with ethics risk their jobs daily--they take the vanguard, and though they expect no reward, neither do they hide behind redactions. I don't know how Machen's investigation will turn out. But I bet one of the new mayor's first acts will be to re-open an audit on Chartered Healrh!

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