WASHINGTON (AP) - A second District of Columbia Council member has called for the resignation of colleague Harry Thomas Jr.
Thomas on Friday agreed to pay back $300,000 in district funds that he was accused of spending on a luxury SUV, golfing vacations and other personal expenses. The decision settles a lawsuit brought last month by the D.C. Office of the Attorney General. Federal prosecutors are also investigating.
D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh issued a statement Saturday saying she hopes Thomas resigns from the Council. She said she didn't see how it was possible for him to serve effectively.
On Friday, Council member David Catania also said he thought Thomas should step down from his position.
Thomas had denied wrongdoing.
D.C Councilmember Thomas to pay $300,000
D.C.’s Attorney General has reached an agreement in which the District will recover $300,000 from D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas, who is accused of spending charitable money on personal and campaign expenses and misusing taxpayer money.
Thomas has agreed to repay $300,000 over the next two years, with an initial payment of $50,000 paid Friday. In exchange, the District has agreed to drop its lawsuit.
"We are pleased that Councilman Thomas has agreed to cooperate with us, repay his debt and spare the District the burden, expense and distraction of proving its case in court,” stated D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan. “At the same time, our unrelenting persistence in bringing and prosecuting this action demonstrates our commitment to pursue anyone, no matter his or her station or influence, who would deprive the city of its precious resources or who would use his or her position of trust and influence to obtain District of Columbia funds for personal gain."
The suit against Thomas claimed that he illegally used grants earmarked for the D.C. council and charitable donations for personal use. He was accused of buying a luxury SUV, going on golfing holidays and publishing political materials with the money.
Thomas had denied any wrongdoing. In a statement, he reiterated that he allegations aren't true. He said he settled because it was in the best interests of the city.
"I am pleased that the complaint the Office of the Attorney General filed against Councilmember Harry Thomas has come to a quick resolution," stated D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. "I applaud Attorney General Irv Nathan and his staff for achieving a settlement, particularly one that will benefit District of Columbia children."
Councilmember Mary Cheh called on Thomas to resign his office.
"In Mr. Thomas' settlement, he was not required to and did not admit to any wrongdoing; nevertheless it appears that he inappropriately diverted public money intended for youth activities to his own benefit," Cheh said in a statement issued to the press Saturday. "This implicit acknowledgement will, I believe, make it very difficult for him to continue to effectively serve the citizens of the District, and, therefore, I hope he will seriously consider stepping off the Council.