Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) could have a challenging week ahead of him. The Washington Post reports that Council Chairman Phil Mendelson aims to strip Graham of his oversight of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board as a public reprimand to the veteran DC politician; he was first elected in 1998.
Mendelson’s potential action comes after the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability found “substantial” evidence that Graham broke the code of conduct in a lottery contract bid.
On February 21 Graham released a statement to constituents:
The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability had no basis to issue findings and pronounce judgment against our client without granting him a chance to be heard, allowing him to review and challenge the evidence to which we were denied access, and conducting a full adversary hearing. The Board violated the law and its own rules. That is not the ethics process that the Council sought to put into place, nor is it one whose decisions are worthy of respect or weight. Today we filed for relief and are confident that the court will agree that the Board acted lawlessly and denied Councilmember Graham basic fairness and due process.
After the findings, Graham repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and told constituents he has no intention of resigning. Washington City Paper reports that Graham is filing a lawsuit to “seek a temporary restraining order against the ethics board, who Graham says violated his rights to due process by issuing a negative report without having a full hearing.”
Ward 1 Democratic candidate Brianne Nadeau released the following statement:
The residents of Ward 1 find ourselves today with a representative who is under scrutiny for his deeply troubling, ethically questionable behavior. Today’s vote results from the fact that he has not been willing to take responsibility for his actions or apologize to the people of Ward 1 for engaging in back-room deals when he should have been out addressing real issues in the community. This is not the Jim Graham we used to know.
Nadeau has already announced her candidacy against Graham in the 2014 Democratic primary for the Ward 1 Council seat. She is a former ANC 1B commissioner.
The council will take up the measure of reassigning the ABC Board responsibilities at a special meeting on Monday. Coincidentally, that same day, Graham will hold a public roundtable on rule making that will impact enforcement of alcohol sale to minors. The rule making would require and provide legal consequences for the failure of bars to check IDs of people who come in.
Graham first convened this public roundtable on January 24 and recessed it to provide additional time for testimony. The question for the day will not be the outcome of the roundtable discussion. The question is: Will this be Graham’s last ABC Board oversight meeting?