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Analysis: More Scandals At The D.C. Tax Office, A Rare Competitive General Election

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D.C. is seeing its first competitive general election race for an at-large seat since 1998.
Adam Fagen: http://www.flickr.com/photos/afagen/5095526890/
D.C. is seeing its first competitive general election race for an at-large seat since 1998.

Five years after an employee in D.C.'s Office of Tax and Revenue was caught stealing millions of dollars from city coffers, a second employee of the OTR was accused of defrauding the city. WAMU's D.C. reporter Patrick Madden speaks with Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about the newest details in that case, as well as the latest on candidates in a competitive at-large council contest are racing toward election day.

What's the city employee Kimberle Davis being accused of in the tax case?

"The hits keep coming for the office of the Chief Financial Officer, which has oversight of the Office of Tax and Revenue. Kimberle Davis has basically been charged with helping file hundreds of false tax returns, which may ultimately have cost the city $300,000. As part of this, she had a second, part-time job with a tax preparation company that was part of this scam. That's how she was caught. It turns out she was caught about a year ago, and I guess they've been monitoring the situation, and the case was just revealed last week."

What does this mean for CFO Natwar Gandhi?

"This is just one more scandal that has taken place in the Office of Tax and Revenue. You mentioned the 2000 case involving Harriet Walters, where she was caught stealing about $50 million, which is almost unbelievable the sum of money. Again, the Office of Tax and Revenue is the office that handles taxpayers' money. So once again, we have a case where someone working in that office has been charged and intends to plead guilty for taking part in a scam. There have been other stories this year about the lack of oversight in the Office of Tax and Revenue. The Washington Post has done a series on whether audits that were supposed to be made public were kept in draft form so they wouldn't be made public. That led to the resignation of the person in charge of these audits who disagreed with the policy. There's been a drip-drip-drip of scandals at the tax office and it has caused problems for Natwar Gandhi, who is the CFO."

How is the at-large contest shaping up in the home stretch?

"This is great. If you're a fan of D.C. political races, normally it's the primary that determines the winner, but this year we have a competitive at-large race. A recent poll commissioned by the Kojo Nnamdi Show and the Washington City Paper shows incumbent Michael Brown at 26 percent and David Grosso, an unknown former council staffer, at 21 percent. So we have a very tight race. You have to go back to 1998 for the last time there was a tight general election, at-large race. That's why there's a lot of attention on it. This is going to be the one to watch in the District on election night. There are a bunch of other races, but this is the one that people are going to be following."

Voters will also be casting ballots for D.C. Council Chairman — does it look like acting chair Phil Mendelson will win?

"It looks like Phil Mendelson should win. He's facing Calvin Gurley from Ward 4, but it looks like Mendelson will win easily. The interesting thing is that this sets up a special election to fill Mendelson's seat if he wins in the spring, so we'll have more stuff to cover down the road."

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