Tseng’s position so frustrated council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) that at one point, Evans held up the two reports, one on either side of his head, and declared: “This is the crux of the matter. Someone is going to explain to this committee what happened.”
Evans, one of Gandhi’s staunchest supporters, threatened to obtain a court order to compel his testimony about the reports and issues surrounding the lottery contract. The deal is an issue in a wrongful-termination lawsuit and is also being investigated by federal authorities.
Evans wants to know about changes in a draft report’s language concerning an offer by council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) to support a businessman’s bid for the lottery contract. A Metro board member at the time, Graham told Warren Williams Jr. that he would support him on the lottery contract if he withdrew a bid on a development project on Metro-owned land.
Graham undertook “inappropriate actions” driven by a “separate political agenda” against Williams, Robert G. Andary, then-chief of an internal affairs unit in Gandhi’s office, wrote in the draft report. That language was not included in Andary’s final report.
The toned-down report compounded concerns that Gandhi has shrouded his agency in secrecy, including misgivings about internal audits critical of the agency that were not previously made public. “These reports have had as much protection as the Watergate tapes,” council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) said.
Catania said Gandhi should present the council with a comprehensive plan for correcting problems in his agency, including poor internal controls and management, by the beginning of the year or consider resigning.
Evans, chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, said he initially called the hearing, the second since October, to address issues concerning the tax office and an increase in the number of reduced commercial tax assessments, as outlined in stories in The Washington Post.
But the focus Thursday was on the lottery contract and whether any council member improperly influenced the deal.
Eric W. Payne, Gandhi’s former procurement director, filed a wrongful-termination suit against the city in which he alleges that he was fired after refusing to change the terms of the lottery contract to favor bidders preferred by Graham and others.
Gandhi would not answer questions on Payne’s termination, but he said, “No member of the council told me or intervened in the selection of this contract.”
When Graham arrived in the council chambers, almost three hours after the hearing began, he said he had to appear to defend himself against “so much innuendo, so much implication.”