How can you be an elected official sued by an Attorney General for diverting (stealing) $300,000 in taxpayer money, have the FBI and IRS conduct an eight hour raid of your house, seize property and you still remain in office? Only in DC government. Sadly, the behavior exhibited by Ward 5 council member Harry Thomas is what residents have come to expect from our elected officials: corruption or intent for unethical behavior.
Thomas can keep denying any wrongdoing until the cows come home but after this embarrassing ambush of his home, he really needs to give up the innocent act and resign from his seat immediately. This raid is surely a prelude to criminal charges which is even more reason for Thomas to step down and save what little face he has left. His constituents in Ward 5 who continue to stand by their man Harry, also really need to give up their hackneyed cries these are trumped up charges against Thomas because he’s black. These charges against Thomas are of his own making; he thought he could steal taxpayer money and get away with it. Race had nothing to do with it but stupidity and arrogance did.
But what’s more repugnant than Thomas’ behavior is the lack of condemnation and collective demand from his 12 other colleagues on the Council that Harry L Thomas Jr. resign. Council chair Kwame Brown's lack of leadership and silence is particularly troubling. More on that later. Apparently, the council is considering asking Thomas to take a paid leave of absence and stripping him of his committee assignments amounts to nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
Making DC government look even more farcical, like one big joke, is the council’s feeble attempt at ethics reform. After scheduling hearings on ethics reform last month, council member Muriel Bowser drafted a bill without teeth. It still allows council members to maintain constituent service accounts, which are nothing more than slush funds they use to raise money and spend on anything but resident needs. Washington Post columnist Colbert King commented recently about this mess Bowser created as “a toothless wonder.”
As the dust settles on this real-life corruption unfurling on the council, I bet DC council chair Kwame Brown is thinking he’s the next marked man in the line up for the federal raid brigade. The DC Board of Elections and Ethics referred his case to the US Attorney’s office in July. Apparently, Brown forget to report some $270,000 in 2008 campaign funds along with slipping his brother some $200, 000 to do “work for his campaign.”
It looks like truth or consequences time for some DC council members. But until DC residents start recalling candidates, demanding reforms and electing credible people to office, we all should grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy the jokes the council keeps giving because it sure isn’t sound governance.