“We take no joy in the findings of this investigation,” said Metro board member Alvin J. Nichols, who chaired the special committee that oversaw the investigation.
Graham (D), the longtime council member for for Ward 1, called the report “baffling.”
“I continue to feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole,” he said. “This is just bizarre.”
Graham noted that Metro’s general counsel had found no violation of Metro’s standards of conduct and that the new report found no evidence of any crime.
Metro board chairwoman Catherine Hudgins said Thursday that the board was aware of the general counsel’s finding but had decided that the matter merited a more thorough investigation.
The questions surrounding Graham’s conduct stem from efforts by the firm Banneker Ventures to develop Metro-owned property near the Shaw-Howard U Metro stop. At about the same time, Warren Williams Jr., a principal at Banneker, was seeking a lucrative contract to run the D.C. Lottery.
The report said that at a 2008 meeting in his council office, Graham told members of the firm he would support the lottery bid if the company agreed not to pursue the Metro venture.
The outside investigation, for which Metro paid $800,000, is the latest round of scrutiny for Graham and his office. Earlier this year, Graham was cited in a D.C. inspector general’s report examining allegations of improprieties in the awarding of the D.C. Lottery contract. Last year, Graham’s former chief of staff pleaded guilty in a long-running federal investigation of the D.C. taxi industry.
The new report — produced for Metro by Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, an international law firm with extensive experience in internal investigations — did not conclude that Graham’s conduct violated any laws. But it said that the council member’s actions ran counter to Metro’s standards of conduct for its board members.
Graham’s conduct “pitted the interests of the Council of the District of Columbia against the interests of Metro,” the report said.
Metro’s board was briefed on the findings in a closed session Thursday.
Investigators reached their conclusions after reviewing e-mails and interviewing nearly three dozen people, including Graham, current and former Metro board members and those connected with the bid to win the development rights to the Florida Avenue parcel.
Graham served on the Metro board from 1999 to 2010, and as chairman in 2003 and again in 2009.
“Rather than operating within the confines of the Metro board room to garner the necessary votes to oppose Banneker Ventures, [Graham] circumvented the Metro board by attempting to single-handedly persuade Mr. Williams to withdraw from the Florida Avenue project by using the lucrative D.C. lottery contract as leverage,” the report said.