Accusations are flying that a D.C. councilmember tried to use his position to keep a business from being shut down. It came as health inspectors raised concerns about the possibility of a rodent infestation.
An associate of Sam Wang's Produce Market repeatedly protested ABC7 taking photos Tuesday. On December 21, a D.C. health inspector found a list of violations and decided to shut the place down. Numerous rodent droppings were found on the floor, in cartons and in crates in different locations throughout the storage room. Egg shell cartons had been chewed into in the storage room.
According to the health department, within 22 minutes D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange was at the market demanding to know who was the inspector's supervisor. It went all the way up to D.C. Heath Department Director Sam Levin, the department says, who refused to countermand the inspector and the place was shut down.
"It's just appalling that a councilman would step in on an issue such as that because if the health department believes that it's unsafe, then it should be considered unsafe," says Peta-Gay Lewis, ANC commissioner.
ABC7 tried reaching out to Councilmember Vincent Orange for comment, but he was not in his office and calls were not returned.
As for Sam Wang's, it reopened the following day after hiring an exterminator and paying a $400 re-inspection fee.
The owners of Sam Wang's have contributed to various Orange campaigns.
"That in and of itself shows that politics is pretty dirty," says Lewis.