A top official in the administration of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) testified in private Monday before a D.C. Council committee investigating allegations that he and other mayoral officials tried to steer millions of dollars in construction and demolition work to a prominent political donor.
City Administrator Rashad M. Young, appointed by Bowser to oversee the city bureaucracy, spent hours behind closed doors answering questions from council members about his involvement in the contracting controversy. Emerging midafternoon, he declined to comment in detail about what he had discussed with the committee but said there was nothing improper about his actions.
He said there was no basis for accusations that he had leaned on senior civil servants in an effort to do a political favor for Fort Myer Construction, a major contributor to Bowser and other elected officials.
“My job is to run the District government, the day-to-day activities of the government,” Young said. “That involves any number of things, procurements included, and I feel very comfortable about everything that I’ve done in this matter.”
Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) convened the hearings to look into the abrupt resignation of Christopher Weaver, director of the Department of General Services, and the subsequent firing of two of his employees in August. Testimony began behind closed doors at the John A. Wilson Building last Thursday and ended late Monday afternoon.
Weaver, who also testified before the committee Monday, declined to comment as he left the hearing.
In a complaint filed last month with the city’s Office of Employee Appeals, Carlos M. Sandoval — one of the fired workers — asserted that his dismissal was retaliation for resisting pressure from Bowser administration officials to steer two multimillion-dollar contracts to Fort Myer.
The company lost out on bids for demolition and road work at a planned soccer stadium at Buzzard Point and a practice facility for the Washington Wizards at the St. Elizabeths campus in Southeast Washington.
General Services awarded both contracts to firms outside the District. The city’s contracts appeal board in September rejected a protest that Fort Myer filed of the decision on the Wizards project.
Cheh opted to close the meeting to the public — over the protests of journalists and open-government advocates — because it involves information about the firing of city employees, which under city policy is typically kept confidential.
She declined to comment Thursday evening on what she had learned during the hearing. She said she tentatively planned to publish a report on the committee’s findings and to release audio recordings of testimony that did not touch directly on personnel matters, as well as excerpts from thousands of pages of documents she said she has received from the Bowser administration. “I’m hoping to make public as much as I can,” she said. “It may be everything.”
The council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment, which is holding the hearing, could also vote to release the recorded testimony and documents in their entirety.
Few details have emerged about the committee’s inquiry over the past several days.
Last week, Cheh said it was clear from evidence she had reviewed that Young showed a “keen interest” in the two contracts and had later “directed the firings” of Sandoval and another General Services employee, Yinka Alao. Sandoval and Alao were dismissed shortly after Weaver suddenly resigned as head of the agency.
Cheh said last week that she did not yet know whether Young’s actions were unusual or inappropriate. The D.C. auditor and D.C. inspector general sent representatives to the hearings to help determine whether further investigation was warranted.