Connect with us

Local

Graham fires back at opponent, files ethics complaint

Most candidates boast pro-LGBT records in six D.C. Council races

Published

on

Jim Graham, ethics, gay news, Washington Blade
Jim Graham, gay news, gay politics dc, homeless youth, complaint

D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) filed a complaint with the city’s Inspector General against his Democratic opponent Brianne Nadeau. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) added fuel to the fire in the hotly contested Ward 1 D.C. Council race this week when he revealed he filed a complaint last Friday with the city’s Inspector General against his Democratic opponent Brianne Nadeau.

The complaint, which Graham released to the Washington Post, accuses Nadeau of underreporting her income in 2009 to enable her to be eligible for an interest-free city loan to purchase a condominium under a city program for low- to moderate-income residents.

Nadeau released a statement saying she did “everything 100 percent by the book” to obtain her loan and accused Graham of “abusing his office and spending taxpayer dollars to attack a political opponent.”

The Ward 1 Council seat for which Graham and Nadeau are competing is one of six Council seats up for grabs in the city’s April 1 Democratic primary. The other seats in contention are the Council Chair position, one of two at-large seats, and the seats representing Wards 3, 5 and 6.

Also on the primary ballot is D.C. congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who’s running unopposed; and candidates running for the shadow U.S. Senate and House seats.

Graham, who has held the Ward 1 Council seat for 16 years, is running for a fifth term in office in what observers say is his toughest re-election bid to date.

In his complaint, Graham charges that he observed what he believes to be “serious irregularities” and “perhaps fraud” in a loan application filed by Nadeau in which she allegedly failed to report that her income had increased from the time she initially applied for the loan two years earlier.

Under rules for the Home Purchase Assistance Program, known as HPAP, Nadeau would have been eligible for a loan of $33,050 to cover her down payment and closing costs if her income was below $50,000, which Graham says it was when she first applied for the loan in 2007.

But according to Graham, Nadeau’s income rose to over $50,000 by 2009, when she received the loan while employed by the office of U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.). Under the HPAP program, Nadeau’s higher income meant she was only eligible for a loan of $14,450. The fact that she received the higher amount, according to Graham, raises serious questions about her ethical conduct as well as to whether she committed fraud.

Tom Fazzini, Nadeau’s campaign manager, told the Blade on Wednesday that Nadeau fully reported all of her income, including the income above $50,000, to the Greater Washington Urban League, which the city had retained to administer the HPAP program. He said Graham took out of context an email Nadeau sent to the Urban League saying her income had not changed since 2007.

When asked by the Post to explain a possible discrepancy in her reported income in the email in support of her loan application, “Nadeau said that her base salary had not changed but that she had received bonuses that increased her pay,” the Post reported.

“I have made all the documentation publicly available, which clearly shows that Jim Graham is distorting communications I had with him when I sought his help as a constituent five year ago,” Nadeau said in her statement.

“This is the same corrupt behavior that caused the D.C. Council to reprimand him and strip him of responsibility,” she said.

Fazzini said HPAP officials initially approved her loan at the higher amount when her income was at a lower level but cancelled the loan contract when she was unable to complete the purchase of the condo within a one-year deadline. He said the purchase couldn’t be completed because the condo building was still under construction and the delay in its completion prevented Nadeau from making the purchase at that time.

According to Fazzini, HPAP officials may have had the discretion to allow Nadeau to obtain the higher loan amount under a new contract the following year, even though her income rose above the $50,000 limit, because the missed deadline for the earlier contract was the fault of the condo developer rather than Nadeau’s.

Graham’s allegation against Nadeau follows a barrage of attacks against him by Nadeau during the past two months over a vote last year by the City Council to reprimand Graham on an ethics violation. The Council’s action, in the form of an 11 to 2 vote, stemmed from allegations that he improperly intervened in the approval process for a Metro development project.

Graham has said he acted in what he believed to be in the best interests of his constituents by arguing against one of two developers seeking the Metro contract on grounds that the developer was unqualified to do the work.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. I'm Just Sayin'

    March 26, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Really Jim? A last minute ethics swipe? “Desperation” is never pretty.

  2. Keith Sugarman

    March 27, 2014 at 3:14 am

    Time for graham to retire

  3. Kurt

    March 31, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    The most fascinating part about the Nadeau loan scandal is that she “had” to remain in her ANC district and would not consider buying a condo she could afford outside of it. Really Brianne, are you that enamored of your status as an ANC commissioner?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Local

17th Street High Heel Race draws large crowd

D.C. Mayor, three Council members, police chief mingle with drag queens

Published

on

34th annual High Heel Race. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Close to 1,000 spectators turned out Tuesday night to watch D.C.’s 34th Annual 17th Street High Heel Race in which several dozen men dressed in drag and wearing colorful high heel shoes raced along a three-block stretch of 17th Street near Dupont Circle.

As she has in past years, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, whose office organizes the annual event, gave the official signal for the runners to start the race from a stage at the intersection of 17th and R streets, N.W. 

Joining the mayor on the stage was Japer Bowles, who Bowser recently named as director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which plays the lead role in organizing the High Heel Race. 

Also appearing on stage after being introduced by Bowser were D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and Council members Robert White (D-At-Large) and Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2).

Bowser, who along with the three Council members delivered brief remarks before the start of the race, said the event highlights the city’s diversity and resilience coming after over a year of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we want the world to know – that even in a pandemic, even when we had to trim the budget, we stayed focused on how we can make life better for our LGBTQ community,” Bowser told the crowd. “And we’re going to keep on doing it,” she said. “We’re investing in making sure everybody in our community is accepted and safe.”

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, who walked along the three-block section of 17th Street before the race began, was greeted warmly by bystanders, some of whom called out his name to welcome him to what has become the city’s largest Halloween celebration.

“This is a great event,” Contee told the Washington Blade. “I enjoy coming out to be among D.C. residents and all who find our D.C. culture,” he said. “It’s just a great evening, so we’re happy to be out here supporting our community.”

Members of the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit were among the police contingent on duty at the event and overseeing the closing of the streets surrounding 17th Street.

Like past years, many of the race participants and dozens of others dressed in Halloween costumes paraded up and down 17th Street beginning at 6:30 p.m., more than two hours before the start of the race, which was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.  

However, the mayor this year gave the signal to start the race at about 8:35 p.m. Although a large number of drag runners participated in the race, some who planned to join the race didn’t make it to the starting line in time because they expected the race to begin at 9 p.m. as advertised, according to people in the crowd who knew those who missed the race.

To ensure that everyone had an opportunity to participate, Bowles and others from the mayor’s office agreed to hold a second race about a half hour after the first one. The number of participants in the second race appeared to be about the same as those who joined the first race, indicating many of the drag participants ran twice.

“This is a special treat,” said one bystander. “We got to see two races instead of one.” 

The High Heel Race was cancelled last year due to restrictions related to the COVID pandemic. Many in the crowd watching the race on Tuesday night said they were delighted the city decided to go ahead with the event this year at a time when other large events continue to be canceled or postponed.

Also similar to past years when the High Heel Race took place, the restaurants and bars that line 17th Street were filled on Tuesday night, including the gay bars JR.’s and Windows as well as the longtime LGBTQ-friendly Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse.

Prior to the mayor’s arrival, gay local radio and TV personality Jimmy Alexander of DCW 50 TV served as host to a drag show and costume contest on the stage. DCW 50 also set up and hosted a separate stage on the sidewalk next to JR.’s bar in which race participants and others dressed in costumes were invited to have their pictures taken and provided with copies of the photos of themselves.

“I think it’s amazing,” Bowser told the Blade after the completion of the first race. “It’s good to be back. It was tough missing a year of activities,” she said referring to the business shutdowns brought about by the pandemic. “We had a lot of great, beautiful racers. And so, I’m really excited about it.”

To see more photos from this event, click here.

Continue Reading

Local

Gay attorney’s plans to run for Del. Senate foiled by redistricting

Activists say move will ‘dilute’ LGBTQ vote

Published

on

Mitch Crane, gay news, Washington Blade
Gay Democratic activist Mitch Crane. (Photo courtesy Crane)

Plans by Delaware gay attorney and Democratic Party activist Mitch Crane to run for a seat in the Delaware State Senate in a district that included areas surrounding the town of Lewes, where Crane lives, and Rehoboth Beach ended abruptly this week when state officials approved a redistricting plan that removes Crane’s residence from the district.

The seat for which Crane planned to run is in Delaware’s 6th Senate District which, in addition to Lewes and Rehoboth, includes the towns of Dewey Beach, Harbeson, Milton, and surrounding areas, according to the state Senate’s website. 

The seat is currently held by Ernesto “Ernie” Lopez, a moderate Republican who became the first Hispanic American elected to the Delaware Senate in 2012. Lopez announced in July that he would not seek re-election in 2022. 

The redistricting plan, which was approved by leaders of the Democratic-controlled Delaware General Assembly, places the section of the Lewes postal district where Crane lives into the 19th Senate District. Crane said that district is in a heavily Republican and conservative part of the state dominated by supporters of President Donald Trump who remain Trump supporters.

Under Delaware law, changes in the district lines of state Senate and House districts, which takes place every 10 years following the U.S. Census count, are decided by the Delaware General Assembly, which is the state legislative body.

Crane told the Washington Blade that neither he nor any other Democrat would have a realistic chance of winning the State Senate seat next year in the 19th District.

“Jesus could not win in that district if he was a Democrat,” said Crane.

Crane said a Democratic candidate could win next year in the reconfigured 6th Senate District now that incumbent Lopez will not be seeking re-election.

The Cape Gazette, the Delaware newspaper, reported in an Oct. 22 story that Crane was one of at least two witnesses that testified at a two-day virtual hearing held Oct. 18-19 by a State Senate committee, that the proposed redistricting would dilute the LGBTQ vote in the 6th District and the draft proposal should be changed.

 “The proposed lines remove a significant percentage of the LGBTQ residents from the current 6th District where most of such residents of southern Delaware live and place them in the 19th District which has a smaller such population,” the Cape Gazette quoted Crane telling the committee. “By doing so, it dilutes the impact of the gay community which shares political beliefs,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

“The proposed lines dilute the voting power of the LGBTQ community in addition to others who respect diversity,” the Cape Gazette quoted 6th District resident Sandy Spence as telling the committee. 

In an Oct. 10 email sent to potential supporters before the redistricting plan was approved, Crane said he believes he has the experience and record that make him a strong candidate for the state Senate seat. He is a former chair of the Sussex County Democratic Party, where Rehoboth and Lewes are located; and he currently serves as an adjunct professor at Delaware State University’s graduate school, where he teaches American Governance and Administration.

He is a past president of the Delaware Stonewall PAC, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, and he’s the state’s former Deputy Insurance Commissioner.

 “I intend to focus on smart growth in Sussex County; work on the problems of homelessness and the need for affordable housing; and assuring that this district receives its fair portion of tax dollars,” he said in his Oct. 10 email message announcing his candidacy.

Crane said he posted a Facebook message on Oct. 26 informing supporters that the redrawn district lines removed him from the district, and he is no longer a candidate.

Continue Reading

Local

MSNBC’s Capehart to host SMYAL’s Fall Brunch Nov. 6

Ashland Johnson to serve as keynote speaker

Published

on

Gay journalist Jonathan Capehart will host SMYAL’s Fall Brunch. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Pulitzer Prizing-winning gay journalist Jonathan Capehart, the anchor of MSNBC’s “Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart,” will serve as host for the 24th Annual SMYAL Fall Brunch scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6, at D.C.’s Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The annual Fall Brunch serves as one of the largest fundraising events for SMYAL, which advocates and provides services for LGBTQ youth in the D.C. metropolitan area. 

“Each year, a community of advocates, changemakers, and supporters comes together at the Fall Brunch to raise much-needed funds to support and expand critical programs and services for queer and trans youth in the DMV area,” a statement released by the organization says.

The statement says attorney and former Division I women’s collegiate basketball athlete Ashland Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the SMYAL Fall Brunch. Johnson founded the sports project called The Inclusion Playbook, which advocates for racial justice and LGBTQ inclusion in sports.

Other speakers include Zahra Wardrick, a SMYAL program participant and youth poet; and Leandra Nichola, a parent of attendees of Little SMYALs, a program that SMYAL says provides support for “the youngest members of the LGBTQ community” at ages 6-12. The SMYAL statement says Nichola is the owner and general manager of the Takoma Park, Md., based café, bar, retail, and bubble tea shop called Main Street Pearl.

According to the statement, the SMYAL Fall Brunch, including a planned silent auction, will be live streamed through SMYAL’s Facebook page for participants who may not be able to attend in person. For those attending the event in person, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required, and masks will also be required for all attendees when not actively eating or drinking, the statement says.

The statement says that for attendees and supporters, the Fall Brunch is “a community celebration of how your support has not only made it possible for SMYAL to continue to serve LGBTQ youth through these challenging times, it’s allowed our programs to grow and deepen.”

Adds the statement, “From affirming mental health support and housing to fostering community spaces and youth leadership training, we will continue to be there for queer and trans youth together.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular