Gray, CFO subpoenaed on lottery contract lawsuit

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Local,DC,Freeman Klopott
D.C. Mayor Vince Gray and Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi have been subpoenaed to give depositions as part of a lawsuit filed against Gandhi by a former contracting official who claims Gandhi fired him for raising questions about a $38 million D.C. Lottery contract.

In his whistleblower lawsuit, former procurement director Eric Payne claims Gandhi asked him to alter a controversial contract by adding a friend of then-council Chairman Gray to the deal. Payne says he refused and then reported the incident to city investigators as an example of the CFO trying to illegally influence the contracting process. He says in the lawsuit that when Gandhi learned of Payne's complaint, he fired him. Gandhi has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Gray has denied having ties with Leonard Manning, the man Payne claims Gandhi asked him to add to the contract.

A spokeswomen for Gandhi did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

"The [Office of the Attorney General] is handling the matter," a spokesman for Attorney General Irvin Nathan said in a statement to The Washington Examiner. "We expect that Mr. Gandhi and others may give deposition testimony."

He declined to comment further. Payne said the indication he and his attorney have received is that the attorney general's office will fight Gray's subpoena.

"If he did everything aboveboard and has nothing to hide, why not say that under oath," Payne said.

The mayor's general counsel Brian Flowers said, "it's a little early" to determine what action the mayor will take.

The lottery contract issue dates back to 2006, when Manning's lottery company was found by an audit to have allowed $70,000 of fake winning tickets to be issued under its watch. In 2007, Gandhi's office issued a call for proposals for a new lottery contract. After a review by procurement officers and then Payne, a new company was selected. But the company had close ties to then-Mayor Adrian Fenty, and it hit a stone wall when the D.C. Council refused to approve it.

Payne's lawsuits says at that point, Gandhi and an unnamed elected official approached Payne and asked him to add Manning to the deal. But throughout the yearlong process, Gandhi publicly pushed for the Fenty-tied company to win the contract. In the end, though, Fenty's pals were tossed and a different Gray ally was added. The council then approved the contract.

fklopott@washingtonexaminer.com

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Freeman Klopott

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner