Arrest someone, please

Photo by file
Perp walk
Perp walk

What do D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have in common?

Read on.

Numerous scandals plaguing local officials have turned the District into a pressure cooker. One need look no further than the events of last week --Council members insulting one another, expletives hurled in front of reporters, reporters barred from meetings-- for evidence of a pot about to burst.

A good old fashioned "perp walk" would do a lot to relieve some of the pressure. For the sake of our city, someone should be preparing arrest warrants.

Ward Five Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. is the lowest hanging fruit in potential arrest scenarios. The Office of the D.C. Attorney General settled its lawsuit against Thomas, but not before issuing a damning report. As well, in interviews and editorials about Thomas’s handling of public money D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan frequently used language like "criminal investigation" and "specter of a criminal prosecution."

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen has confirmed an investigation into Thomas’s alleged diversion of government funds to pay for a luxury SUV, expensive travel, golf outings and a good time at Hooters.

It is a wonder the U.S. Attorney has yet to slap cuffs on Thomas and parade him before the cameras. Findings already uncovered by the D.C. Attorney General make a solid case

Also on the radar screen of the U.S. Attorney is the 2008 reelection campaign of D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown. In 2008 Brown was running unopposed in the Democratic Primary for At-Large Council.  Nonetheless, he spent more than $800,000 of which $239,000 ended up in the coffers of a company controlled by his brother, Che Brown. Despite requests, Che Brown has not provided local investigators with records detailing how the money was spent.

To the best of my knowledge Kwame Brown has never publicly stated that he did not personally benefit from campaign funds paid to his brother’s company or otherwise spent by the campaign. He has said "administrative errors" are to blame and that there is "no missing money."

Suspicions about the payments to Che Brown's company are heightened by following the money: a consulting firm that appears to have been formed for the sole purpose of servicing Kwame Brown's 2008 campaign was responsible for transferring the funds to Che Brown's company.

The 2008 campaign failed to report 221 contributions and revenue totaling over $133,000. Fifty-three expenditures totaling nearly $170,000 went unreported.

In referring Brown's case to the U.S. Attorney for investigation, D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Chairman Togo West said, "We think there's criminal activity here and it needs to be looked into."

So there you have it: two D.C. elected officials being investigated by Ronald Machen, the U.S. Attorney in charge of prosecuting corruption and similar crimes committed in the District.

Machen needs to deliver justice expeditiously. Our city is sinking under the weight of ethics scandals. Arrest Thomas or Brown or both. Send a message to their colleagues and every District resident: there is a new sheriff in town and he does not tolerate corruption or the lining of pockets with money that is not yours.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is Machen's boss. Before becoming Attorney General, Holder was a player in local politics, sometimes named as a potential mayoral candidate. 

In January of this year Holder officiated the swearing-in of Kwame Brown as Council Chairman. I doubt he did that because they are strangers to one another.

In 2012 Holder’s boss, President Barack Obama, is up for reelection. Holder has already attracted unwanted criticism for decisions about where to prosecute suspected Guantanamo Bay detainees and the growing scandal surrounding "Operation Fast and Furious" in which guns intended for a sting operation ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Holder surely does not need questions to arise about his unwillingness to prosecute actual or perceived buddies from the District. Conservatives would have a field day at his expense. Figures like Thomas and Brown could easily become poster children for an Obama administration tolerant of public corruption.

So bring on the perp walks, Mr. Machen. It will do many people a lot of good and the folks who will be wearing handcuffs have seemingly invited the trouble upon themselves.

Chuck Thies hosts the "D.C. Politics" show Thursday mornings at 11:00 am on WPFW 89.3 FM, streaming online at wpfw.org.

0 Comments For This Article

Anonymous

What do DC Councilmembers Jack Evans, Jim Graham, and Tommy Wells have in common? It's so obvious; but there are also many other things they have in common with other DC Councilmembers.

Read On.

Numerous scandals plaguing local officials have turned the District into a pressure cooker. One need look no further than the events of last week --Councilmembers insulting one another, expletives hurled in front of reporters, reporters barred from meetings-- for evidence of a pot about to burst.

Yes! A good old fashioned "perp walk" would do a lot to relieve some of the pressure. And Yes!! Someone should be preparing arrest warrants:
FOR ALL PERPETRATORS.

Let's call a spade a spade. All cooking pots are not Black. Sorry CT,
you really blew it this time. What say you???

CCCA Prez

Mr Chuck Thies only sees the black criminals, he's giving the white dudes a pass. That's mighty white of Thies.

Anonymous

Very good article. Dig it up!! Finally the connections are known.

Just passing through

I agree, arrest all perps. Let's see:
- Thomas is easy: stole money intended for urban baseball to buy himself an Audi SUV. Lock him up.

- Brown seems easy: stole, or at least laundered, political donations through his brother.

- Graham: did not report an attempted bribe. Assuming that's a crime, lock him up.

Not sure what the beef is with Wells, he seems like a pretty good guy, called Brown a bully and took his lumps.

Tired of ALL this cr*p

No one on the council will be arrested.

As Mr Holder will never countenance the prosecution of black councilmembers, the white councilmembers get a pass by default. A most disgusting state of affairs.

I say, arrest them all and let a judge and jury decide their fate.

Chuck Thies

This isn't a matter of skin color. My column is about DC Council members currently being investigated by the US Department of Justice. That is the lone criteria. If that isn't obvious to some readers, I suggest a refresher course in reading comprehension.

LongTimeRez

If "arresting someone"--black, white, yellow or green--were the answer, at the top of the list would be none other than current City Adminstrator Allen Lew. "Allen who?" you say.

In the Fenty administration, Mr. Lew was appointed Director of an independent (read non-accountable and non-transparent) Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization and given unlimited power to carry out his mission.

Predictably, Mr. Lew exercised his authority to reward his friends, as well as political cronies of Mayor Fenty, to the tune of $31 million as reported by the DC auditor in May. http://dcauditor.org/DCA/Reports/OPEFM%20Report%205_11_11.pdf

To add insult to injury, much of the actual construction was substandard despite the city's paying top dollar for it. Mr. Machen could put a very large feather in his cap and recoup multi-millions owed to DC by simply following up on this report.

DC General-Born

Frankly, Chuckee babee you are right-on wiht your comments and go have a drink of ice tea too cool me and you because by default and his faults Eric Holder obviously will not prosecute a D.C. elected Balck guy. And that is why this negro now goes conservative and wish the republicans very well in the country and for the presidency ASAP.
* Will call myself BLACK again if ever arrest are made of Harry T and Kwame B of the DC Council by Machen or Holder.

Anonymous

If they could indict Thomas or Brown, they would have done so. Doesn't anyone remember that the US Attorney's office initiated a sting operation against a mayor in this town? They are not exactly afraid of indicting DC politicos.

But you are afraid of embarrassing Eric Holder? This man has given his stamp of approval for the assassination of an American citizen (Anwar al-Awlaki) without trial, or even an indictment. Every day, Eric Holder's minions in the federal Bureau of Prisons torture tens of thousands of people in the federal Bureau of Prisons, including thousands of DC prisoners, through prolonged solitary confinement and the brutal use of restraints.

You are worried about embarrassing this man? He knows no shame.

Anonymous

@ CT: Just asking. Do you know something only Justice Department officials know for sure? (By the way, took that reading comprehension course many years ago thank you, long after my college days. It served me well.) How do you know who is and who is not being investigated by Justice? As others have stated, Thomas and K Brown are not the only possible "perps to walk."

Wells did take his lumps. Don't wish to impugn his integrity on this or any other blog so I'll keep my third party information to myself for now. However, since we should be coloring with a broad brush here, let's not ignore the scandals of the many to scapegoat the few.

And CT, as for your graphic: All law enforcement members are not White and all perps are not Black. The white question mark in the black box?.... Don't you think you could have been more diverse in the depiction? A picture is worth a thousand words and that picture reveals entitlement and a lack of sensitivity.

As I said, a good old fashioned "perp walk" will do a lot to relieve some of the pressure. As far as Lew is concerned, let's not forget the former Mayor's "chauffeur," whose name escapes me (Is it Keith Lomax?) who was paid a lot of money to do something that was not done because there was no need for it on the site where he was paid to do the work.

Remember, I do agree that someone should be very busy preparing warrants. Our disagreement stems from the fact that you have not spread a wide enough "dragnet" in your article.

LeopardPrint

@ccca prez

Gimme a break, Moulton. Just cuz Chuck left out your arch enemy Jacko doesn't mean these guys don't need to be locked up.

You see, you just don't like the way Jacko spent his $ (tickets), but he did not break the law at all. Your homeboy Thomas and Kwame broke the law, yo! Lock em up!

Please, please find a new hobby or a new person to go after. Won't be long until your new Councilmartyr will have to deal with you! Bwah! Ha! Ha!

Keep up the good work, Chuck. It might push these fools to actually take action against these crooks!'

PS - rogue 24 sucks.

Anonymous

I don't understand why it's a black or white issue. It's a "you broke the law" issue. And, this was made more apparent to me, as my husband and I (who are both Ward 5 residents) are driving back from our weekend errands a couple of weeks ago. As we traveled down Lincoln Road, we passed by this small group--mixed with children and adults--soliciting funds to support the purchase of new sports equipment--in front of where you may ask? The Harry Thomas, Sr Recreation Center.

Now try to convince me that this is still a racial issue.

LongTimeRez

"As far as Lew is concerned, let's not forget the former Mayor's "chauffeur," whose name escapes me (Is it Keith Lomax?)"

Anon@5:28pm, The 5-11-11 report very clearly lays out (pg. 11) the unsupported/undocumented payments to RBK (Lomax's business), as well as all the other parties' involvement in this questionable handling of District finances:
"For example, the Auditor compared OPEFM vendor payments with OPEFM contract and procurement files for RBK Landscaping and Construction (RBK). The Auditor found that OPEFM's contract and procurement files for RBK did not include 6 purchase orders and supporting documentation for payments totaling $9,756,525 to RBK. Table II presents OPEFM
payments to RBK under purchase orders that were not found in OPEFM's contract and procurement files, and lacked documentation justifying and supporting the payments to RBK."

Talk about low-hanging fruit!!! But neither the Council nor the current mayor will address this elephant in the living room.

Anonymous

ROFLOL @ LongTimeRez: Nor the 800 pound gorilla (guess who)in the counting house where the former "king" counts all of his money. Wonder if the Feds will address THAT?

Anon @ 8:37P: No m'am the issue is not racial. The issue is universal and not just about $300k+. We're talking some big money now:
$50m, $31m, $9.7m; and this is before we even begin to discuss the City Council Members. By the way, not trying to defend that which cannot be defended, but I understand part of the money did go toward some sports equipment. I for one will drive to Lincoln Road to make a donation. Did you? Just asking.

DC*PRO

To all concerned:Timing is the Key here, ALL will be arrested when the Time is right:election coming up right!!!!! We are Strong ON Law & Order:This Administration is acutely aware of Timing:ask "OSAMA B.

Anonymous

Let me say it again: The US Attorney's Office for DC has historically shown no problems indicting DC politicians. Do we remember a certain sting operation set up against our sitting Mayor? To assume some sort of timidity based on racial sensitivities, due to the African-American Attorney General, is ridiculous. Holder himself was US Attorney for DC and incarcerated many DC residents.

On that note (and please do not censor me again today), the notion that Mr. Holder would "attract unwanted criticism" is hardly valid. There are many bases for criticizing his behavior as the #1 law enforcer in the country, beginning with his approval of the attempted murder of a US citizen without the niceties of a trial or evidence (Anwar al-Awlaki) and through the torture of tens of thousands of people (including thousands of DC prisoners) in the federal Bureau of Prisons (a DOJ agency) through long-term isolation and brutal use of restraints.

It is despicable that you are more concerned about this man's "credibility" and the re-election odds of his boss than about the very real issues around "justice" that either has yet to address.

Anonymous

LOL...Yes. I did make a donation. We both did. We just thought the whole thing was so ironic.

LongTimeRez

@DC*PRO

Timing may be everything, but timing for whom??

http://justice-integrity.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&i...

Anonymous

Well, there's a BIG leap from investigation to prosecution, and without more facts you want to see perp walks just to make yourself feel better. Joe DiGenova gave y'all big perp walks, search warrants, pictures of the closet and the boots, and ended up with squat. Better the example of Janet Reno, who drilled into her Miami prosecutors that you bring a case you can WIN, because you have competent evidence, not to make the poohbahs of Georgetown feel better about themselves. Your grasp of criminal law (and how it differs from the civil law AG Nathan enforced with his civil lawsuit) is clearly wanting. Failure to follow programming rules can require the reimbursement of a grant, even if only a small percentage of it may have been "diverted." Without all the facts, we don't know if ANY grant money was "diverted" in the Thomas case. Even if misspent but later repaid, you still need evidence of criminal intent. I know of from many Ward 5 families whose children DID attend Team Thomas baseball & softball clinics, and that's why you don't hear the voters here clamoring for his head. We paid over $600 million for that stadium and the Lerners STILL haven't given the D.C. taxpayers a fair deal. Let's walk THAT perp, buddy...

Anonymous

And you wonder why we can't get the right to vote for the president.