D.C. COUNCIL member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) was happy five years ago to help constituent Brianne K. Nadeau in her efforts to get a no-interest loan she had been promised under a city-backed program for first-time homebuyers. Now that Ms. Nadeau is seeking to oust him from office, Mr. Graham is alleging possible fraud on her part. It is a reckless charge, with little basis in fact, that says more about the accuser than the accused. Sadly, it is not a big surprise coming from a man who has tarnished his office with ethical transgression.
Days before Tuesday’s Democratic primary, in which Ms. Nadeau is seen as having a credible chance of unseating him, Mr. Graham scrounged through old e-mails to form the basis of a formal complaint to Inspector General Charles G. Willoughby. In a March 21 letter released to the press, Mr. Graham alleged “serious irregularities . . . perhaps fraud” in Ms. Nadeau’s 2009 loan under the Home Purchase Assistance Program. “We must take seriously situations where someone applies for HPAP but claims an income level lower than it is, in truth,” Mr. Graham wrote.
In fact, as documents posted on Ms. Nadeau’s campaign Web site show, housing officials knew her income had grown by about $5,000 from 2007, when she first became eligible, to 2009, when she sought to claim the award that loaned her $38,490 to cover her down payment and closing costs. Yes, Ms. Nadeau may have been imprecise in some e-mails in referring to her income. It’s also true that she made no secret of her volunteer service on an Advisory Neighborhood Commission. But Mr. Graham’s likening this behavior to the bank fraud committed by former D.C. Council chairman Kwame Brown (D) is beyond the pale, even for him.
Indeed, we would have thought that Mr. Graham might have learned a lesson about bringing politically motivated charges from the can of worms opened by his allegations about former lottery contract officer Eric Payne. A 2008 investigation by Robert G. Andary, integrity and oversight officer for the city’s chief financial officer, exonerated Mr. Payne of any wrongdoing but uncovered Mr. Graham’s inappropriate behavior in connection with land and lottery deals, actions for which he was subsequently taken to task by the Metro board and the D.C. Council.
That Mr. Graham thinks nothing of using his office and its resources to try to find dirt on a political opponent and request an official investigation on such insubstantial grounds shows that he still doesn’t get what good government is about. We previously endorsed Ms. Nadeau as the better choice for Ward 1, and this episode only reinforces the correctness of that decision.