It’s the D.C. political controversy that just won’t end.
It was first reported in the pages of this newspaper 31/2 years ago, on April 7, 2008: “Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty want to award a contract worth more than $120 million to a nine-month-old company to run the District’s lottery games. But some D.C. Council members say they have questions about the proposal and the firm’s principals . . .”
To close followers of city politics, the dimensions of the lottery contract saga are rather well-established. Gandhi’s office awarded the contract, among the city’s most lucrative, to a joint venture that included an ally of Fenty’s.
Why was that so? Despite the rarefied nature of the lottery business, where there are only a handful of global competitors qualified to install and run a system of requisite type, the District’s contracting laws — and more important, its political customs — are such that it helps the global giants to have a local partner involved. The contracting laws have another provision, too — that the council gets a chance to review all contracts of a certain size. And the lottery contract, in nine-figure territory, was definitely of a certain size.