In the cold light of day, in the coldness of night, just remember the
Cherry Blossom Festival is only eight weeks away. This cold spell is
sure to break before then.
Corruption and the 2014 Election
In his formal remarks kicking off his reelection campaign at THEARC
on January 11, Mayor Gray offered a tepid apology to District voters for
the “shortcomings” in his 2010 mayoral campaign and asked for
http://tinyurl.com/msujv4z. In a somewhat defiant stance, Gray went
on to say, “It is time to turn the page. I know that some journalists
and our opponents want you to focus on the past. I know that some
reporters prefer a circus to a thoughtful discussion f issues.” Over the
past two weeks, Gray and his campaign have consistently refused to
answer specific questions regarding the 2010 shadow campaign, namely
what he knew and when he knew it.
In the coming weeks prior to the April primary, and the few weeks
prior to the opening of early voting on March 17, Gray’s effort to put
the voters’ concerns regarding the 2010 campaign and corruption in the
District government behind him may prove increasingly difficult because
of renewed press and public focus on key individuals who were involved
in that campaign who are scheduled to be sentenced or to have a status
conference before federal judges at the US District courthouse: Vernon
Hawkins on February 14; Eugenia (Jean) Clarke Harris on March 19; Lee
Calhoun also on March 19; and Stanley Straughter also on March 19.
Moreover, in the coming weeks, the issue of corruption in the District
government will again be raised following the announcement on Friday
that Neil Rodgers, an aide to former councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr.,
was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with theft and fraud
for his role in helping Thomas divert $100,000 in government grant funds
from the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation to pay for an
inaugural ball sponsored by the DC Young Democrats at the Wilson
Building in 2009. Rather than accept a plea agreement offered by the US
Attorney’s office, Rodgers chose to take his case to a grand jury which
was sworn in on November 9, 2012, which returned a bill of indictment.
Rodgers is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday, January 24, at 9:15 a.m.
Before Judge John D. Bates in Courtroom 3A, sixth floor of the US
District courthouse. At that time, a trial schedule will be set. The
trial is likely to commence during the course of the 2014 elections.
Rodgers’ indictment will close out the US Attorney’s case regarding
Thomas, since other individuals who were involved in the councilmember’s
theft of government funds — Ayawna Webster, Millicent West, and Danita
Doleman — have all pled guilty and will be sentenced in the coming
months, again sometime during the course of the 2014 election.
Finally, Michael Brown, who pled guilty last year to accepting
$55,000 in bribes from federal agents, is scheduled to be sentenced on
April 28. His sentencing, although coming after the April 1 primary,
will mark the third elected official in recent years who has been
charged with malfeasance in office, and will again remind voters of the
specter of corruption that appears to permeate the District government.
Moreover, Brown’s solicitation of bribes and his efforts to influence
the city’s Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) program has itself
results in an ongoing federal investigation and probe into procurement
and contracting practices by the District government which may itself
result in guilty pleas and indictments during the coming year.
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