Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The Washington Post reports that District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan has filed a civil lawsuit against D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. alleging that Thomas diverted more than $300,000 in public funds in major part through a charity to a nonprofit that Thomas apparently controls, and from there to his personal use. The DC AG has also asked U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen to consider filing criminal charges against Thomas.
The funds allegedly flowed from the city to the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp., a public-private intermediary, and then to the Langston 21 Century Foundation, the foundation associated with the Langston Golf Course amd that supports educational programs. Langston 21 in turn granted most of the funds to a nonprofit allegedly controlled by Thomas - Team Thomas - and a for-profit company - HLT TeamThomas/Swingaway, LLC (also known as HLT Development) - also apparently controlled by Thomas, supposedly to fund youth sports programs. According to the DC AG's press release, Team Thomas also separately raised more than $80,000 from private donors, even though it appears never to have obtained federal tax-exempt status or to have registered with DC to solicit charitable contributions. Team Thomas allegedly spent a significant portion of both the public and private funds on personal expenses for Thomas, including vacation travel and a mailing his Councilmember work, and HLT Development allegedly purchased a luxury SUV for Thomas' personal use. The alleged issues came to light because a political opponent of Thomas raised questions last fall about Team Thomas. Langston 21 has already agreed to repay the funds that it retained, subject to a reduction for any funds actually spent on youth sports programs, and its principals have agreed to cooperate in the case against Thomas.