There's an old saying in journalism that there is no news story if a dog bites a man, However, if a man bites a dog, that is something that rises to the level of a reportable event. The same situation exists, of course, with corruption in the District of Columbia government.
In a lawsuit filed before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on October 15, 2010, the construction company Cheeks of North America, Inc. (CNA) alleges that a consortium of inter-linked construction firms have successfully bid on road and highway construction and repair contracts in DC that have effectively frozen out other competitors.
CNA also charges that the firms that have reaped millions of dollars in construction contracts, including increased funding made available by President Obama's "stimulus" package, have been siphoned off in kickbacks to top DC politicians from the winning bidders.
The civil case has been assigned to U.S. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. The suit by CNA owner John C. Cheeks, charges that Fort Myer Construction Corp., Anchor Construction LLC, Capitol Paving of DC, Inc., Civil Construction, LLC, and A&M Concrete Corporation have rigged bids to ensure that the five companies, all with inter-locking directors and officers, that resulted in the "near total subversion of the control mechanism of the infrastructure contracts in the District of Columbia."
Also named in the lawsuit, among others, are former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty; DC Attorney General Peter J. Nickle; the DC Water and Sewer Authority; the DC Department of Transportation; and DC Councilman Jim Graham, the chairman of the Council Committee on Public Works and Transportation. Current Mayor Vincent Gray, although not named in the suit, is said to have known about the bid-rigging while serving as DC Council President, according to sources familiar with the case. One DC Council member who is said to be clean in the affair is the previously scandal-plagued mayor Marion Barry.
The corruption involving rigged construction and other infrastructure contracts might be chalked up as "more of the same" except for one major wrinkle. WMR has been told that the FBI has been trying to close down the rigged construction contract operation, said to extend from Washington DC to New York and Philadelphia over the past ten years. However, after some brief success in New York, the DC federal investigation of the multi-million dollar scam has encountered a slowdown with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. WMR has been told by informed sources that the Superior Court for the District of Columbia has been part of an attempt to stymie the prosecution of the construction corruption principals. Holder was appointed as a judge on the DC Superior Court by President Reagan in 1988.
In addition, WMR has been told by informed sources that the construction contract corruption involves DC Delegate to the House of Representatives Eleanor Holmes-Norton and House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. WMR has also learned that the FBI has been investigating the multi-city contract fraud as part of an overall investigation of organized crime syndicates that have taken over government construction bidding and contract award processes. The FBI's focus has been on New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Politicians who have received campaign donations from the construction consortium principals named as defendants in the CNA suit include Fenty; Graham; DC Council Members Kwame Brown, Muriel Bowser,and Phil Mendelson; and former DC Mayor Anthony Williams. National-level politicians who received donations from the construction cartel include Hillary Clinton for her 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain for his 2008 presidential campaign, and Virginia Senator Mark Warner.
John Cheeks, WMR has been informed, has received a number of death threats since blowing the whistle on construction contract fraud. Cheeks has also been followed. The FBI, we are told, is aware of the threats against Cheeks but also appears to have been constrained in aggressively pursuing the fraudsters from higher-ups in the Justice Department.