The allegations represent the latest in a series of scandals that have tarnished the District’s top elected officials and given the appearance of a government in disarray. Nathan announced his findings just hours before former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown (D) testified under oath at a council hearing that Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) gave him improper payoffs and a job in a quid pro quo to smear his key opponent.
Several council members also are caught up in political controversies, including neglecting to account for campaign donations, failing to pay taxes and purchasing luxury vehicles with taxpayer funds. The scandals are weighing on a city trying to rebound from an economic slump and last year’s divisive mayoral campaign.
“We are extremely disappointed in this violation of public service by Mr. Thomas,” Nathan said, calling his behavior “willful, intentional and knowing. ”
Nathan has asked U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen to consider filing criminal charges against Thomas. William Miller, Machen’s spokesman, said federal prosecutors have been investigating Thomas.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is aware of the referral and will review the information . . . as we continue our investigation,” Miller said in a statement.
Thomas, the son of a respected three-term council member who died in 1999, vowed to fight the allegations. “There is no settlement that I would make that would imply that there was some wrongdoing on my part,” he told reporters in front of the John A. Wilson Building.
Thomas, who arrived at his news conference in the blue Audi, said he would provide proof that the money was spent on sport programs and maintained that his business paid for the vehicle. He added that he would not resign his council seat or step down from his chairmanship of the powerful Economic Development Committee.
Timothy Day, a Republican who first raised the accusations against Thomas during an unsuccessful campaign to unseat him last fall, called his alleged actions “a disgrace” and added that “his lifelong quotes of giving back to the children were false. He clearly gave more to himself.”
D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) said in a statement that he was “greatly disheartened” by the allegations. Brown met with Thomas on Monday and said he would issue “a plan of action” Tuesday.
Nathan’s allegations again bring unwanted attention to a council marred for months in embarrassing political controversies.