D. The judge is wait­ing, Mr. Thomas

A dead­line for dis­clo­sure looms for the D.C. Coun­cil mem­ber.

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

C. COUN­CIL MEM­BER Harry Thomas Jr. is un­der court or­der to pro­duce in­for­ma­tion about a ques­tion­able non­profit that bears his name. The dead­line is Mon­day, and it seems to us there shouldn’t be any ques­tion about a pub­lic of­fi­cial com­ply­ing with a court di­rec­tive — par­tic­u­larly an elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive who says he has noth­ing to hide and has promised open­ness. Yet Mr. Thomas’s lawyer told us that he “doesn’t know” whether in­for­ma­tion sought by the city at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice in its probe of the Team Thomas or­ga­ni­za­tion will be forth­com­ing.

Fred­er­ick D. Cooke, at­tor­ney for the Ward 5 Demo­crat, said that a va­ri­ety of op­tions are un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. These in­clude ap­peal­ing last month’s rul­ing by Su­pe­rior Court Se­nior Judge Stephen F. Eilperin re­quir­ing Mr. Thomas to com­ply with a sub­poena seek­ing more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about the more than $200,000 raised since Jan­uary 2008 by Team Thomas. Mr. Thomas could also de­cide not to pro­duce the doc­u­ments, thus forc­ing the city to go back into court for en­force­ment. Mr. Cooke sug­gested that per­haps in­com­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral Irv­ing B. Nathan wouldn’t have the same ap­petite for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion as did his pre­de­ces­sor, Peter J. Nick­les.

We cer­tainly hope that is not the case. There are too many unan­swered ques­tions about the non­profit that was cre­ated by Mr. Thomas in 2000 pur­port­edly to help the city’s youth and which Mr. Nick­les con­cluded un­law­fully so­licited do­na­tions. When his op­po­nent in the Novem­ber elec­tion first raised ques­tions about the group, Mr. Thomas said that it had been dor­mant since he joined the coun­cil in 2007. That turned out to be in­cor­rect: In fact $216,159 was raised dur­ing the past three years, in­clud­ing $188,000 col­lected in 2008. Mr. Thomas said that his coun­cil of­fice was not used for fundrais­ing, but e-mails showed that a top aide so­licited a con­tri­bu­tion and di­rected the check be sent to Mr. Thomas’s Wil­son Build­ing coun­cil of­fice.

There are other dis­crep­an­cies. The Post’s Tim Craig and Mike DeBonis re­ported on Oct. 15 Mr. Thomas’s as­sur­ance that he was com­pil­ing a list of donors and ex­penses and would make it pub­lic in “ the com­ing weeks.” Mr. Thomas and his other at­tor­ney, John Ray, made the same prom­ise to us, but — to date — it re­mains un­filled. What we do know about about those who con­trib­uted raises an­other set of con­cerns. Mr. Thomas, for ex­am­ple, voted in sup­port of leg­is­la­tion that di­rectly ben­e­fited one of the con­trib­u­tors to Team Thomas, but never dis­closed that con­flict. We re­cently learned that in May 2008, CareFirst, then in a con­tentious bat­tle with the city over use of its sur­plus, re­ceived a request from Mr. Thomas to help spon­sor a sports pro­gram; it pro­vided $1,000, the low­est spon­sor­ship avail­able in a range that went as high as $10,000 or more. A CareFirst spokesman stressed that the grant was just one of hun­dreds made to or­ga­ni­za­tions that year.

Mr. Thomas and his at­tor­ney have at­tempted to por­tray the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s in­quiry as po­lit­i­cally in­spired, pay­back for Mr. Thomas’s sup­port of Vin­cent C. Gray for mayor. What gets over­looked in that sce­nario is that two judges have sep­a­rately up­held the va­lid­ity of the re­quests for in­for­ma­tion. We would urge Mr. Thomas not to de­lay fur­ther in pro­vid­ing the full ac­count­ing he promised and that the pub­lic has a right to ex­pect.

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