George’s resignation is the latest sign of turmoil in the city’s tax office, overseen by Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi for more than a decade. Gandhi, who has been widely credited with improving the city’s finances, has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks. Even Gandhi’s closest allies on the D.C. Council have faulted the agency for failing to release audits that chronicled problems in the tax office.
“This should be a message to the CFO to be more transparent with both the residential and commercial assessment process,” D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) said Monday.
In recent months, The Washington Post detailed the property tax deals while internal auditors at the agency cited weak oversight of tax office procedures in a March audit.
The agency’s internal affairs chief, William J. DiVello, resigned on the spot this month, complaining that senior managers had refused to make public a revised version of the audit.
Evans said that he confirmed George’s resignation with the general counsel of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.
An agency official did not respond to an e-mail and a phone call requesting comment. George did not respond to a request for comment that was sent to his personal e-mail account.
At an oversight hearing convened by the D.C. Council Committee on Finance and Revenue last week, Evans raised the issue of George’s D.C. job application. George stated on the application that he had left the job in Georgia because his contract was completed. But his contract had been terminated, and he had sued Fulton County for discrimination and breach of contract.
“If he lied on his résumé, he should be fired,” Evans said Monday.
George apparently left the office early Thursday, the day after the hearing, and has not returned, according to people with knowledge of the agency who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Questions were first raised about George’s tenure as chief appraiser after The Post reported in August that his office had struck hundreds of deals with commercial property owners, settling tax disputes before the city’s appeals process could play out.
The $2.6 billion in total reductions, which Gandhi has said were necessary to avoid litigation, lowered potential city revenue in 2012 by $48 million from what the original proposed assessments would have generated.
The reductions created dissension within the tax office. One employee filed an anonymous complaint on an employee hotline, and the FBI and internal auditors have been investigating, according to several people familiar with the probe.