IT’S GOOD NEWS that federal prosecutors are seeking information related to the District’s efforts to award a lottery contract. New scrutiny may answer lingering questions about how the public’s business was conducted in this still-mysterious episode.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has subpoenaed documents pertaining to the contract from Eric W. Payne, a former contracting officer who is suing the District; he alleges he was wrongfully fired for resisting unlawful attempts to influence the procurement process. Mr. Payne, who was interviewed by federal authorities, wants to cooperate with federal officials, but some of the documents sought are under a court order as part of his termination case, his attorney, Brian K. McDaniel, told a U.S. District Court magistrate last week.
The disclosure, which took city officials by surprise, was the first indication that U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.’s probe into possible D.C. government corruption may be looking at the events surrounding the city’s controversial efforts to find a new vendor for its lucrative lottery business.