Jim Graham, earlier this year (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

He specifically mentioned white Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), whose constituent service spending was questioned in a recent Post article, and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who rejected a bribe passed to him by a staff member, but did not report the bribe or punish the staffer.

They stand compared to Harry Thomas Jr., who is black and stands accused of siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for youth programs for his personal use. Thomas settled a civil lawsuit filed by Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan without admitting wrongdoing, but has yet to explain publicly what happened to the money.

Needless to say, Evans and Graham were not flattered by the comparison. In fact, they jointly called Lightfoot to object, which resulted him calling me to “clarify the record.”

“They believe the way the article is written, it creates an unfair inference of wrongdoing on their part,” Lightfoot told me. “I was not making any allegations of misconduct.” Nor, he said, did he mean to equate the Thomas allegations with the other members’ behaviors.

And then Evans and Graham called me. “Racially divisive character assassination does not contribute to this discussion on how we improve ethics,” Graham said.

”I’ll join Jim’s quote,” said Evans.