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The DC City Council’s Dreary Ethics Record

Since 2010, the city has seen eight of its leaders investigated, indicted, or sentenced.

The reprimand Monday of DC City Council member Jim Graham is only the latest in a pattern of ethics actions taken against a significant number of former or current council members. There are 13 members of the DC City Council, and in the past few years eight have been reprimanded, censured, or indicted, or become the focus of an investigation by the federal government or DC, including the city’s mayor, Vincent Gray.

Here’s how it tallies up:

March 2010: Ward 8 council member Marion Barry is censured for steering a city contract to a sometime girlfriend and also taking cash out of the deal himself. Punishment: He’s stripped of his chairmanship of the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development.

August 2011: Ward 7 council member Yvette M. Alexander is investigated by the DC Office of Campaign Finance for improper use of her constituent fund, but an audit clears her, saying she did not personally benefit from the money.

October 2011: Newly elected mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign becomes the focus of an investigation by US Attorney Ronald Machen, who is looking into finance irregularities. The investigation is ongoing.

January 2012: Ward 5 council member Harry Thomas Jr. resigns after federal prosecutors charge him with embezzlement and filing false tax returns. In May 2012 he is sentenced to three years and three months in prison.

June 2012: DC City Council chairman Kwame Brown is hit with federal charges of bank fraud and DC charges of filing a false tax return. In November the feds sentence him to one day in jail and 480 hours of community service. A DC Superior Court sentenced him to 30 days in jail for the tax issue, but the sentence was suspended.

August 2013: At-large council member Michael Brown triggered an investigation into his campaign after he announced that more than $100,000 was stolen. He blamed his former treasurer. Brown lost a bid for reelection.

October 2012: At-large council member Vincent Orange, after a seven-month investigation, is cleared of questions pertaining to his 2011 campaign finances. Or, as the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis, put it: “Under the loosest of definition, yes, Orange’s campaign earned a clean bill of health.”

February 2013: Ward 1 council member Jim Graham is reprimanded by the City Council for shenanigans involving the city lottery contract. Punishment: His committee, Human Services, is stripped of oversight of the ABC Board.

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