February 22, 2013 at 6:01 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Judge rejects Graham request for order against ethics ruling
Jim Graham, Washington, D.C., gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) (Washington Blade photo by Jeff Surprenant)

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Friday denied a request by gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham for a temporary restraining order to force the city’s ethics board to withdraw an opinion claiming that Graham violated the city’s code of conduct over a contracting matter in 2008.

Graham and his attorneys wanted the negative opinion by the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability withdrawn to lessen its impact on a special session of the City Council scheduled for Monday, when a proposal to reprimand Graham will be debated and voted on.

In addition to filing a motion seeking the restraining order, Graham’s attorney on Thursday filed a lawsuit on Graham’s behalf challenging the ethics board’s legal authority to issue its opinion that Graham violated the city code of conduct. Lawsuits usually take months or years to wend their way through the judicial system.

“On today’s court action, my lawyer said it best,” Graham said in a comment on Twitter. “We will pursue the lawsuit on the ethics board’s action. The injunction had a very high bar.”

D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) on Thursday introduced a resolution calling for the Council to reprimand Graham, citing the opinion of the ethics board and a separate opinion by the Metro transit agency board finding that Graham breached ethics rules over the contract matter.

Both opinions claim Graham acted improperly by allegedly seeking to pressure a businessman into withdrawing a bid for a Metro land development contract in exchange for Graham’s support for the businessman receiving a D.C. lottery contract. Graham has denied he interfered with the contract approval process.

Graham’s lawsuit argues that the ethics board violated the law that created it and violated Graham’s constitutional right of due process by issuing its opinion against Graham without giving him an opportunity to “view the evidence against him, confront it, present contrary evidence and argument, and propose findings of fact after a full adversary hearing.”

The lawsuit adds, “Mr. Graham has suffered severe reputational harm as a result, including impending irreparable harm to his fifteen-year career as a sitting member of the D.C. Council.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • It would be impossible to damage Jim Graham’s reputation. 30+ years of criminal behavior leaves little reputation to damage and none of it good. To say Graham took gratuities for services rendered actually flatters his reputation of stealing from the sick and dying.

  • Jim Graham, as anyone who has spent 5 minutes in his presence can sense, is an imperious little snit with an outsize ego and a Helmsian attitude of superiority and exceptionalism that would make even Leona blush.

    Jim Graham has harmed everyone with whom he has ever had any contact whatsoever.

    You come away from being around him feeling dirtied, as though some of the taint of him may have gotten on you.

    It comes as no surprise, then, that, finally, Graham’s behavior has caught up with him. I’d say it’s way too late. Think of all the money he’s been paid over the years to be the awful creature that he is.

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