D.C. says lottery documents can be released

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

The District government has withdrawn its objection to a request from a courtroom adversary to release certain confidential documents about an internal investigation of the city's lottery contract.

In a court filing late Monday, the District said it had dropped its objections to an effort by Eric Payne, a former city contracting officer, to force the disclosure of a pair of reports by Robert Andary, who was an investigator in the D.C. chief financial officer's office.

Those reports were the subject of several news stories last week after the Washington Post's editorial board obtained copies. The disclosures, the District said, made its efforts to keep the documents secret moot.

The draft report made public last week found that Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham took "inappropriate actions" when the council considered the lucrative lottery contract and that the lottery deal had become "highly politicized."

When the city issued its final report -- a redacted copy of which had long been available -- neither judgment was included.

But both reports have been shrouded in secrecy: In the redacted version, Graham's name was withheld because the District argued he was a "confidential source."

Payne, who says he was fired after resisting political pressure linked to the lottery contract, argued the District merely wanted to keep the documents secret "to protect senior District of Columbia officials who are now the potential subjects and/or targets of various, ongoing federal investigations."

A federal grand jury is probing whether bribes played a role in the lottery contract, though lawmakers who have been linked to the deal, including Graham, have denied any wrongdoing.

Though the city has backed away from its insistence on secrecy of Andary's reports, it has not dropped its objections to the disclosure of other investigation records.

"The other investigative documents... have never been released to the public and thus remain confidential," the city wrote.

But several of those documents -- including Andary's investigative notes -- appeared on the website of the Washington City Paper last week.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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