The Jack Evans Report: This Is Getting Old
It seems like not a week goes by without another news story about an irregularity in the office of our Chief Financial Officer. The latest revelation was last Tuesday morning, in which news outlets reported a criminal indictment of a CFO employee accused of assisting with more than $300,000 in fraudulent District tax refunds (and more than $3 million in federal taxes). I remain very concerned that we don’t have the types of controls that prevent fraud before it takes place. I believe the District stands a chance of receiving restitution for these amounts and will follow up to ensure it is done.
Then, later the same day, I was told that the CFO received a letter from the Securities and Exchange Commission asking for copies of audits, document retention policies and other information that were the subject of my hearing earlier this month. I am a former Securities and Exchange Commission Enforcement Division lawyer, myself, and I believe that the goal of the inquiry is to determine whether the city’s bond offering documents contained any material omissions about the state of our tax office that should have been disclosed to investors prior to selling our bonds.
As a practical matter, the number of recent news stories on the audits prior to the bond sale most likely ensures that all potential bond purchasers were aware of the information prior to purchase. The interest of the SEC, even in the form of an informal inquiry rather than a formal investigation and subpoena, is of great concern to me. I have asked for regular briefings from the CFO on these matters and will continue to conduct regular oversight over Gandhi’s office. I have been a consistent defender of Gandhi, but the constant drum beat of negative news from that office is a problem that must be addressed.
On a lighter note, I wanted to write at least one more article about the Washington Nationals this year – is it too soon? I made a point of purchasing tickets to all the playoff games to support our team and our city, and while I am so proud of our historic season, I am also disappointed that our playoff run got cut short. Anyone who was at the game for the Thursday night win, though, will tell you that there was an electric feeling in the stadium and a real sense of community.
When I last wrote about our team, in August, the Washington Nationals had the best record in Major League Baseball. It was then widely reported that you have to look back to 1945 to find the last time our team was 20 games above .500. This whole season has been an experience in uncharted territory. Not only did the team perform so well, but the area around the ballpark is now beginning to develop rapidly. I cannot begin to tell you the number of articles I read about the failure of this concept. With a little patience, I knew the investment would pay off.
As we move squarely into fall, I hope everyone has a safe Halloween. Please keep in touch with my office, and let me know what issues are of interest to you. ★