D.C. Council members to scrutinize lottery contract, online poker

September 1, 2011

By Jeffrey Anderson-The Washington Time

A trio of D.C. Council members signaled their intent Wednesday to re-examine the $38 million D.C. Lottery contract and a plan to launch the nation’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 General 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. Gandhi.

The inspector general revelations and council reaction raise new questions about where Mr. Brown will find support when the issue gets aired publicly this fall.

“The inspector general should be doing an investigation,” council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, said of the request by former Chief Procurement Officer 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.

“If the inspector general didn’t do his job, then it’s a problem,” said Mr. Evans, chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, which has oversight of the lottery and the CFO’s office. Mr. Evans said he will hold another hearing on online poker when the council reconvenes this month.

Council member Muriel Bowser, a Ward 4 Democrat who chairs theCommittee on Government Operations and the Environment, which has oversight of the Office of the Inspector General, and who also serves on the finance committee, said a hearing should not be limited to online poker.

“People are concerned about the lottery procurement, period,” she said. “I’ve always been uncomfortable with the contract. If Mr. Gragan said it was highly unusual the way it was passed, then I agree.”

Asked whether she had concerns about the inspector general, Ms. Bowser replied, “It’s legitimate to ask what he has done. People are concerned that the city’s enforcement mechanisms are not enforcing effectively. The public needs to have confidence in those responsible for enforcing regulations, rules and ethics.”

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/aug/31/dc-council-members-to-scrutinize-lottery-contract-/

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