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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Tony Bullock
March 28, 2002 (202) 727-6846
S T A T E M E N T
Mayor Anthony A. Williams Responds to Release of DC Inspector General’s Report
Earlier this afternoon I received the report of a yearlong investigation into fundraising activities undertaken in prior years in the Executive Office of the Mayor (EOM). The full report is nearly 300 pages in length and I have not, as yet, had sufficient time to review its findings and conclusions in detail.
This report follows my request that the Inspector General initiate an investigation into the fundraising activities of my office. As I have said to the public before, the report indicates that I did not manage the fundraising operation closely enough. Because of insufficient management oversight, mistakes were made. I am pleased that the report finds that had the policy I subsequently developed been implemented earlier, these mistakes would not have occurred.
I am disappointed that the report suggests the possibility of criminal wrongdoing by some former members of my staff. Importantly, the report confirms that with appropriate safeguards we can continue to harness the energy of the private sector in helping us to form partnerships to continue the process of revitalizing the District.
Last year, after I referred this matter to the Inspector General, I took a number of critical steps designed to ensure that the solicitation, acceptance and use of private donations to the District government are subject to the highest standards of ethics, public disclosure and accountability. First, I instituted mandatory ethics training for all members of the EOM staff. This training began in the spring of 2001 and has been on-going. Second, I put a new team in place to design and oversee implementation of policies and procedures that govern all public private partnerships. The team collaborated with internal and external experts and developed a policy that contains important safeguards that maximize fiscal accountability and transparency. The safeguards include internal controls and strict oversight as well as publication of annual public reports that detail all donations and expenditures, Third, I have brought in a nationally-known and highly respected legal ethicist to advise my staff and me on matters of legal ethics related to public private partnerships.
I believe that there is an important and appropriate role for the private sector - corporations, not-for-profits, foundations and individuals - to help the District government meet its obligations to the residents of the city. I believe strongly in this concept. But if we’re going to engage these private entities, if we’re going to continue to forge private/public partnerships, we have to do it right. We have to do it in a way that is accountable and completely open. I am pleased to see that the IG provides praise for our new policies and procedures. He writes:
It goes without saying that I continue to insist on the highest ethical standards for all District employees especially those who work in the Executive Office of the Mayor. Once I have had sufficient time to review the findings and conclusions of this report in greater detail, I do expect to respond more fully to the report and to do so publicly.
Talking Points for press briefing
Friday, March 29, 20002
As I said yesterday, the full version of the IG's report is roughly 200 pages in length with appendices and attachments of another 300 pages or so. I have not, as yet, had sufficient time to review all of this material in detail. As such, I may not be able to answer every specific question that you may have.
I am pleased to report that - as I predicted - no criminal referrals involve me personally or any current members of my staff. The report does cite possible technical violations on my part of the DC Personnel Regulations. The IG has appropriately referred this and other similar issues to the DC Office of Campaign Finance and Ethics. I will talk more about these specific issues in a minute.
I do want to focus on a few issues that I have not heard reported in any detail as yet. I understand that news reporters are not generally in the habit of reporting good news but there really is some fairly good news in the IG's report. While I recognize that the IG makes a number of recommendations and referrals in his report, I am pleased to see that he also makes general findings that are consistent with what I have been saying for nearly a year now in regard to this matter. Specifically, the IG states - and I am quoting directly here - that:
We did not uncover evidence that the EOM's fundraising was a campaign of institutional corruption with its purpose or effect being the personal enrichment of the Mayor or EOM employees.
I am also pleased to see that the IG finds praise for the new fundraising policies anti procedures we have already established in the Mayor's office and throughout the District government. On that subject he writes:
There is no doubt that Inspector General Maddox is correct. I truly believe that if we had had any sort of regulations in place governing the solicitation of private/public partnership fundraising, our people would have followed them and we would not be here today having this conversation. Most states and cities have such policies and most states and cities are successful in soliciting support from corporations, not-for-profits, foundations and individuals.
In fact, just a few days ago, our Superintendent of Schools and the City Council Chairman announced a wonderful program at Ketchum High School in which Comcast cable company will donate millions of dollars in services and training bringing high-speed Internet access to all our District public schools and libraries. These are exactly the kinds of benefits that such partnerships can bring to our citizens.
As I've said many times, I believe that there is an important and appropriate role for the private sector in helping the District government meet its obligations to the residents of the city. I believe strongly in this concept. But if we're going to engage these private entities, if we're going to continue to forge these private/public partnerships, we have to do it properly. We have to do it in a way that is accountable and completely open. I am confident that with the steps already taken, and by incorporating some of the recommendations in this IG report, we will be able to bring a new energy and discipline to these endeavors.
I also want to take a moment to clarify an important point: The fundraising issues examined by the Inspector General have nothing to do with the campaign funds that were raised for my election or my re-election. There seems to be a constant misunderstanding about this and there is inaccurate reporting on this specific question time and time again. The fundraising practices that were examined by the IG in this report have to do with attempts on our part to establish and encourage private /public partnerships in connection with specific events. They have nothing to do with campaign funds and there are no investigations or alleged improprieties in my campaign fundraising.
I am also disturbed by the characterization of these events in the report as "little more than social functions." Each of them had the clear intent of enhancing the District government, providing opportunities to our citizens, or advancing issues and principles that are important to our city. The inaugural event to welcome our new President, the attempt to reach out to the faith community and bring technical help to them for faith-based initiatives, the program designed to motivate students in our schools by rewarding scholarship with free NBA tickets, all of these and the others were designed to help enhance the lives of the residents of the District not to provide social opportunities for the mayor.
And while we may have some differences in legal interpretation, there was very little evidence that anyone knowingly violated the regulations and no suggestion of personal gain. For the most part, any past or current employees who participated in the fundraising did so without any knowledge that they were violating any regulations. They also did not do anything to promote - as the Inspector General says - their own "personal enrichment."
In my particular case, I did indeed ask Lockheed to sponsor receptions at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in 2000. 1 readily admit it and certainly there was no attempt to hide this fact. It was clear to everyone present that Lockheed was the sponsor. I must have thanked them ten times or more. It was reported matter-of-factly in the newspaper when it happened.
In the summer of 2000, I felt that it was important for the District to make an impact on the hundreds of Members of Congress who attend these conventions and to do so in a bi-partisan fashion. The Members of Congress, administration officials, political leaders, staffers, and potential Presidents who attend the conventions are the same people who decide the fate of the District budget, voting rights, social riders, and all of the many issues that face us in our annual appropriations process. I have been' to enough political conventions to know that corporate sponsorship of such receptions on behalf of elected officials is entirely commonplace. By all accounts, our receptions had an impact. In particular, our presence in Philadelphia helped forge a relationship with the current White House administration that continues to reap benefits today.
At this time I will take your questions and answer them to the best of my ability.
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