The Washington Post

Jim Graham: ‘I am not resigning’

Ward 1 D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D) shown in 2010 talking to residents, said Friday that he will not step down in the face of a rebuke from the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

On Thursday, the new D.C. government ethics board rebuked Graham after it concluded that there was “substantial evidence” that he improperly intervened in a contract dispute. But the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability said it could not sanction Graham because his alleged misdeed was conducted before the board was created.

The Washington Post editorial board is calling on Graham to resign, calling his actions “indefensible.”

But Graham, who is in fourth term, made it clear Friday that he has no plans to step down.

“There has been no allegation or suggestion that a crime has been committed, or that there is any illegal financial request or laws that have been broken,” Graham said.

The controversy stems from Graham’s role in a 2008 real estate deal when he served as the council’s representative on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Graham has been accused of offering to support businessman Warren W. Williams’s bid on the city lottery contract if Williams would forgo his interest in a real estate project.

Last year, an independent investigation by the Metro board concluded that Graham improperly intermingled his council and board responsibilities.

As reported by The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis, the ethics board concluded that Graham broke three provisions of the city code of conduct because he sought to keep Williams out of the Metro project for personal reasons. The board concluded that Graham wanted to steer the project to a political contributor.

Punishing Graham, however, would violate his constitutional protection against retroactive lawmaking, the board concluded.

In his statement Friday, Graham said he strongly disagrees with the board’s finding.

“I categorically deny any connection between any campaign donation and my actions on these matters,” Graham said. “I am now in discussions with my lawyer as to my next legal steps.”

Although Graham says he won’t resign, he has not announced whether he will seek reelection next year. Graham, who already has one challenger in next year’s Democratic primary, said he will decide later this year whether he intends to run again.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.


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