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Jim Graham Fights Back Against Reprimand From D.C. Council

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Councilman Graham denies any wrongdoing in the 2008 incident.
Jared Angle
Councilman Graham denies any wrongdoing in the 2008 incident.

D.C. Council Member Jim Graham is facing a possible reprimand by his colleagues on the council after the city's board of ethics issued a blistering a report last week stating Graham that violated the city's code of conduct during a 2008 contracting deal.

The controversy for Graham started after a lengthy Metro report detailed that while serving on the Metro Board, the Ward 1 council member suggested at a 2008 meeting that he would support a developer's bid for a D.C. Council lottery contract if the developer's firm withdrew its bid for a Metro land project.

The Metro report led to an investigation by the newly formed Ethics Board, which, in its first ruling, scolded Graham and found he violated the city's code of conduct, but ultimately said it couldn't sanction the council member because penalties were not in place when the actions involving the land deal occurred.

That led to yesterday's announcement by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson that he would hold a special meeting next week to vote on two resolutions punishing Graham — one a formal reprimand and the other stripping Graham of his oversight over the city's alcohol board.

And as Mendelson made the announcement in the hallway outside his office, Graham was there, standing next to reporters, and then finally holding his own press conference, where he explained that his 2008 actions may have been political horse-trading or sharp-elbowed politics, but were not illegal or unethical.

"Suggesting one thing for another thing is the stock and trade of a lot of legislative actions," Graham said. "There's no crime committed, no law broken, no financial interest."

The vote for the two resolutions against Graham is scheduled for Monday, but Graham is suing the board of ethics and is seeking a temporary restraining order against the board's opinion and is pushing back against Mendelson's move to hold a vote Monday, claiming he should have a chance to defend himself.

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