ABC board member resigns, charging ethics violations by Brodsky

Photo by The Georgetown Dish
ABC Chairman Charles Brodsky at a hearing
ABC Chairman Charles Brodsky at a hearing

A senior member of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board has resigned, charging Chairman Charles Brodsky with lobbying fellow Board members illegally to support a major policy change that would advance Brodsky's private business interests.

The Board member, Mital Gandhi, sent a letter of resignation to Brodsky and oversight authorities, expressing his inability to continue to serve in an environment in which Brodsky's private interests in The Nation's Triathlon, a business he founded, began to overshadow the Board's public mission.

Mital Gandhi, a former ANC Commissioner from Forest Hills, resigned over ethics concerns (Photo by: ANC 3F) Mital Gandhi, a former ANC Commissioner from Forest Hills, resigned over ethics concerns
"Unfortunately, in the last few weeks, recent events have taken place during official proceedings of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board that simply do not align with the high integrity and ethical standards I adhere to," Gandhi, a former ANC Commissioner in the Forest Hills section of Northwest, wrote in his letter of resignation.

Mital's unexpected departure revolved around Brodsky's abrupt change of a longtime board policy requiring major alcohol distributor Washington Wholesale Liquors LLC, a member of one of the nation’s largest distributors of alcohol in markets across the country, to store its liquor in the District instead of nearby jurisdictions. The decades-old policy of requiring Washington Wholesale Liquors to use storage in the District was based on financial and regulatory concerns.

While the ABC Board and leaders such as Councilmember Jack Evans had stood firm for many years against efforts by Washington Wholesale to move storage out of the District, "all of a sudden," sources say, Brodsky brought the issue up in a non-public ABC board session, and lobbied individual board members to support the change.

The Chairman allegedly told board members that Washington Wholesale was a prospective sponsor for The Nation's Triathlon, his business, and could be a major supporter of future electoral ambitions by Brodsky and others.

Gandhi and Dupont Circle-based ABC Board member Mike Silverstein decried the sudden move to benefit the alcohol distributor in a public session January 26, calling for fact-finding hearings.

"I've had numerous complaints about the ABC Board Chairman [Charles Brodsky] from leaders in my ward, including Logan Circle, Dupont Circle and Georgetown," said Evans. "With this latest development, the Inspector General and/or the Attorney General need to find out whether the allegations are true."

"There should be a full investigation," Evans told The Georgetown Dish.

Evans said the abrupt change in policy without proper public input should be examined.  "Whatever shenanigans are going on there [regarding Washington Wholesale] should not be happening -- the investigation should include that, too," he said.

Councilmember Jim Graham, who chairs the committee that oversees the ABC Board, said he was looking into the matter today. At a hearing in February, Brodsky told Graham's committee that the D.C. Attorney General had issued a "private opinion" clearing him of any ethics conflicts.

"That was a little strange," Graham told The Georgetown Dish. His office has yet to receive the "private opinion" Brodsky said the Attorney General issued. Attorney General Irv Nathan's office did not immediately return a call asking about the "private opinion."

"I am increasingly concerned about the inability of our government -- the IG and the AG, and even our own council committees -- to police ourselves," Evans said. "That's how we get Congress involved in our affairs, and that's very troublesome to me."

The Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration had no comment.

0 Comments For This Article

Peter Rosenstein

It is sad and troubling when the private interests of the members of a Board or Commission in the District appear to overtake the mission and work of the Board or Commission.

This may be the case with the Chair of the ABC Board, Charles Brodsky.

There can be debate as to whether an action is legal or not. But often it is not the legal issues involved but the appearance of impropriety that really matter. When you get to a point where there is such a lack of trust in the fairness of a Commissioner that every action receives what some may consider undue attention it can create a problem for the work of the entire commission and all the other Commissioners.

I believe we may have reached that point with the ABC Commission. I am in no way saying that I believe that Commissioner Brodsky has done anything illegal. And in fact his work on the National Marathon has been good for the District. But the time may have come for Mr. Brodsky to resign from the Commission and focus all his attentions on his businesses and the good he can continue to do for the City in that way.

Anonymous

Is brodsky going to still hear cases or going to step down until this investigation is complete? Kudos to the dish for being the first media outlet to detail the concerns of Brodsky. He should just resign rather then face federal charges for conspiracy.

Brett Rather

Am I the only one missing something here? I am under the impression that in the United States you are innocent until proven guilty. the burden of proof is on the party making the charge to bring forth evidence of the crime or act. The defendant, the party being charged, does not have that burden. In this case I've read a whole lot of allegations made by Mr Gandhi with absolutely no proof behind it. No corroborating stories from other board members. No secret tape recordings. No transcripts. Nothing but allegations and innuendo. Now maybe that's enough for the short sighted readers of this paper and others but do I need to remind everyone about basic due process afforded to us in the United States? It's not a sexy as ready-fire-aim but shore does work well in the long run. What is Mr. Brodsky is truly innocent - how is he going to get back his good name after being dragged through the mud in this fashion. Again I have no idea if he did it or not. My only take is that without any type of facts or others to support what Gandhi says then that's not enough to convict someone. If it was then your neighbor could simply state that you told him he beats his wife and in theory on that alone he should go to jail. allegations without facts are what gets Mayor Gray in trouble with Saloumon Brown and Chairman Brown in trouble. Allegations aren't enough. Proof is where you need to be.

Anonymous

”Brett". Have you followed everything the dish has been reporting?? The proof is in the votes! They denied this as late as December of 2010! Brodsky is obviously lying here. It may be time the Feds get involved. No trust in public service (especially dc).

Anonymous

Yes, "Brett", haven't you been paying attention to the Dish's months long smear campaign against Brodsky??

Anonymous

The Dish reflects the concerns of many citizens tired of being steamrolled by a public official. If Brodsky is guilty I hope he gets what's coming to him. If he is not guilty of a violation of law he will get to walk away. That doesn't mean citizens can't demand that he be accountable to them rather than his business friends who have been benefitting from his obviously biased approach to his job. His departure from this public position is long overdue. Mayor Gray has been reluctnat to admit to another of his failures, in not getting rid of Brodsky sooner, but he clearly got the message.

Anonymous

Charles Brodsky voluntarily resigned from ABRA on Friday with a year left on his term. Can't wait to read how this voluntary act was the result some devious plot. Were his due process rights so violated he had no choice (I'm rooting for that one because whoever raised the doctrine above either has no idea how and when it can be invoked, or simply can't be bothered to assert anything other than an ipsi dixit opinion); was the alleged smear campaign by the Dish the culprit; was it a man on a grassy knoll?

Inquiring want to know!

Anonymous

Where did all the conspiracy people go? So many claimed the articles in the Dish were nothing more than a smear campaign against Brodsky. Now that certain events have come to light the smear allegations have stopped. Why? Were there no no factual bases to substantiate the smear allegations so their now being abandoned? Anyone who made the allegations able to provide some form of independent proof? If not, doesn't that mean people were making false claims that the Dish was making false allegations against Brodsky? If so, how self righteous can one get to expect to be entitled to such a double standard? Any of those who accused the Dish care to defend themselves?

The silence is deafening.