Inspector General: ‘No evidence’ DC Council broke law passing online gambling

dc-council-online-gambling-evidenceDistrict of Columbia Council members have been cleared of acting illegally when they voted to approve their first-in-the-nation online gambling plan in December 2010. The Washington Post quoted a draft of DC inspector general Charles J. Willoughby’s 19-page report which states that, while Council member Michael A. Brown was working for a law firm that counted gaming industry figures among its clients, Willoughby “found no evidence” that Brown “lobbied or received anything on behalf of any gaming entity or did anything improper which resulted in the council voting for the legislation. The [Office of the Inspector General] finds that the mere fact that a legislator who is associated with an entity that provides or performs work in a subject area that may be the subject of possible legislation under consideration … in and of itself does not constitute a use of public office for private gain.”

While Willoughby concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” that Council members had “acted improperly or violated standards of conduct,” the report criticizes DC CFO Natwar M. Gandhi’s decision to add the online gambling provisions to the lottery provider contract – ultimately awarded to Intralot – after bidding had closed. The report suggests Gandhi should have issued a written notice that the contract requirements had changed and allowed an additional round of bids from prospective suppliers. Gandhi’s failure to do so means that the District “may not have received the best price” for the lottery deal. Willoughby is scheduled to testify at a Jan. 26 DC Council panel intended to deal with (among other issues) DC Lottery’s online gambling plans.