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Metro finds board chairman broke contracting rules

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Local,Transportation,Kytja Weir

Metro's former board chairman broke the transit agency's own rules in getting involved in a land deal for some Metro property to sway a lottery contract with the District, according to an independent review commissioned by the agency's board.

The report released Thursday said that D.C. Councilman Jim Graham, a ?longstanding Metro board member who also chaired the board, pressured some local businessmen who sought the District's unrelated lottery contract out of bidding for a Metro land redevelopment contract between 2008 and 2010. Metro's Board of Directors released the report by the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft on Thursday after meeting behind closed doors for hours.

At issue were the negotiations dating from 2008 to 2010 on thedevelopment of a property belonging to Metro on Florida Avenue near U Street and Georgia Avenue. Graham, one of the primary District representatives on Metro, had pressured Banneker Ventures to back out of the process on the condition that he would support some of their members in their quest to win the lottery contract from the city, the report said. The land deal, which was located in the ward that Graham represents, was ultimately awarded to another group. Graham did not benefit financially from his role, according to the report.

Graham declined to comment Thursday afternoon, telling The Washington Examiner that he had not yet been given a copy of the report.

The implications of the report's findings were not entirely clear Thursday. Graham, a Ward 1 Democrat,was replaced on the Metro board in January 2011 after 12 years at the transit agency, so the board has no ability to censure him directly.

But the results of the report could be used on the District side as fodder for an ongoing federal investigation into the lottery contract.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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