ByÂ Jeffrey Anderson-The Washington Time
A trio ofÂ D.C. Council members signaled their intent Wednesday to re-examine the $38 million D.C. Lottery contract and a plan to launch the nationâ€™s first online poker system, an idea promoted by council memberMichael A. Brown, at-large independent, and approved without public discussion in a supplemental budget bill in December.
Their remarks were made after The Washington Times reported Tuesday that Inspector GeneralÂ Charles J. Willoughby has failed to act on a request from two former Cabinet officials to investigate irregularities in the underlying lottery contract and the oversight activities of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Natwar M.Â Gandhi.
The inspector general revelations and council reaction raise new questions about whereÂ Mr. Brown will find support when the issue gets aired publicly this fall.
â€œThe inspector general should be doing an investigation,â€ council memberÂ Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, said of the request by former Chief Procurement OfficerÂ David P. Gragan and former Attorney GeneralPeter J. Nickles, who raised concerns in July 2010 of an irregular contract approval and vetting process that handed a 51 percent stake in the lottery to a local businessman who never participated in the competitive bidding process.
â€œIf the inspector general didnâ€™t do his job, then itâ€™s a problem,â€ saidÂ Mr. Evans, chairman of theÂ Committee on Finance and Revenue, which has oversight of the lottery and the CFOâ€™s office.Â Mr. Evans said he will hold another hearing on online poker when theÂ council reconvenes this month.
Council memberÂ Muriel Bowser, a Ward 4 Democrat who chairs theCommittee on Government Operations and the Environment, which has oversight of theÂ Office of the Inspector General, and who also serves on theÂ finance committee, said a hearing should not be limited to online poker.
â€œPeople are concerned about the lottery procurement, period,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™ve always been uncomfortable with the contract. IfÂ Mr. Gragan said it was highly unusual the way it was passed, then I agree.â€
Asked whether she had concerns about the inspector general,Â Ms. Bowser replied, â€œItâ€™s legitimate to ask what he has done. People are concerned that the cityâ€™s enforcement mechanisms are not enforcing effectively. The public needs to have confidence in those responsible for enforcing regulations, rules and ethics.â€
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