The March 12 editorial “Subverting D.C. democracy” irresponsibly suggested that the District’s 2011 settlement of a claim by D.C. Chartered Health Plan, a company controlled by Jeffrey E. Thompson, was related to campaign contributions and based on grounds other than the public interest. That is not the case.
The settlement saved taxpayers millions of dollars, was negotiated at arm’s length by career lawyers at the D.C. attorney general’s office and was fully vetted by professionals at the Department of Health Care Finance; by Mercer, an independent actuarial consulting firm; and by the federal government, which not only approved the settlement but also agreed to pay 70 percent of it.
That was before the settlement was recommended by the attorney general to the mayor and approved, as required by D.C. law. At no time did the mayor or anyone in the executive office of the mayor urge a settlement of this matter.
Chartered’s claims were for approximately $20 million. Mercer concluded that Chartered probably was correct that the rates used to compensate it were problematic. If it had gone to trial, the District probably would have faced a judgment of about $20 million.
Instead, the District’s $2.25 million share of the $7.5 million settlement saved many millions in potential losses and avoided creating costly problems with federal regulators had the District had gone to trial and lost. Every professional engaged on this matter in our offices concluded before the settlement — and remains entirely convinced today — that it was in the best interest of the District and its taxpayers.
Irvin B. Nathan and Wayne Turnage,
The writers are, respectively, the D.C. attorney general and the director of the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance.
In the lead-in to his “State of the District” speech [“ ‘I didn’t break the law,’ Gray declares,” Metro, March 12], D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) challenged the allegations made by businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson and, after detailing his public career, concluded: “Who do you believe? A greedy man attempting to save himself? Or me, a public servant who has dedicated his entire career to giving back to our communities?” It seems to me that relying on this dichotomy of character does not necessarily get Mr. Gray off the hook.
As far as one can tell, the kind of squalid personal corruption that has plagued our District politics in recent years — bribery, thievery, perjury — does not lie at the heart of this case. Mr. Gray, I suggest, is really the sort of dedicated public servant that he describes himself to be. The problem might be that his commitment to public service, and his belief that he could perform even greater service from the mayor’s office, may have caused him to stray. Perhaps this desire to do good has led him to — how shall I put it? — break bad.
If that’s the case, he has regrettably thrown in with the other common crooks and must be treated accordingly.
Bernard Ries, Washington
Regarding the March 12 front-page article “Gray loyalists stand fast in the face of allegations”:
Whether D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) is more trustworthy than Jeffrey E. Thompson has long been beside the point. Two scenarios are possible, and neither supports returning Mr. Gray to office: He either exercised leadership so lax that four close associates committed election fraud on his behalf and with him none the wiser, or he collaborated in fraud that materially helped him defeat a credible opponent in a close election.
There are better candidates who have been part of the progress that the District has made over the past 15 years. The corruption Gray supporters excuse in the name of progress is only a drag on momentum that was generated during the Williams administration and continued during the Fenty administration. Why tolerate it?
Catherine P. Lincoln, Washington