The Blade’s Lou Chibbaro, Jr. recently reported that the D.C. Council voted 11 to 2 on Feb. 25 to reprimand Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) on the grounds that he violated a Council ethics rule in 2008 by “improperly intervening in a contract approval process.”
The Council’s action came in response to a report by the District’s Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA) during February that alleged Graham violated the city’s code of employee conduct by trying to intervene on behalf of a campaign contributor bidding on a city contract.
But neither the Council nor the BEGA provided any evidence whatever that Council member Graham personally benefited by any of the decisions that he made. If accepting campaign contributions is “evidence” that Graham acted improperly, then all the 11 members of the Council who voted for this unfortunate resolution should also have been reprimanded.
From 1989 through 1996, I served on the board of the D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board. As the last vice chairman of the lottery board, I too voted to approve multi-million dollar lottery contracts.
One can always disagree with these decisions. But such disagreements do not provide any evidence that one acted “improperly.”
I have known Jim Graham since he headed the Whitman-Walker Clinic during the 1980s when he struggled to contain the District’s AIDS crisis. I know that Jim Graham is a person of great personal integrity. I also know that he is a hard-working Council member and that he is one of the most outstanding members of the Council since the first Council was seated in January 1975. —Paul Kuntzler, Washington, D.C.