D.C.

Kiyo Oden defends granting of government deal to now-husband

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UPDATE: 15 judges in the D.C.'s Office of Administrative Hearings have come out against Chief Judge Mary Oates Walker after ABC7 ran two stories on how Walker does not actually hear any cases, and how Walker’s OAH granted a project to the husband of the agency’s General Counsel, Kiyo Oden..

“We write to express deep reservations about Chief Judge Mary Oates-Walker of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) following an ABC News report that our agency’s relocation logistics contract went to a company owned by the husband of our General Counsel, Kiyo Oden. The resulting appearance of impropriety is especially concerning because Ms. Oden is a friend of the Chief Judge, and the Chief Judge has testified repeatedly in oversight hearings that she (the Chief) supervised the entire relocation project, which, according to ABC News, was not competitively bid,” according to a confidential letter from the judges addressed to the Chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, Phil Mendelson.

Take a look at the full letter below.

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D.C. corruption cases are unfortunately becoming less of a rarity. So, charges that a major government project was granted to the husband of the General Counsel of a government bureau, surely did not come as a surprise.

The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) handles various appeals of decisions by the D.C. government. Last July, it completed a costly relocation to One Judiciary Square. The moving job—worth $36,000—went to the TPM Group. It belongs to the husband of the agency’s General Counsel, Kiyo Oden.

“I think DC Taxpayers and residents are fed up,” said Dorothy Brizill, a government watchdog.

Oden insists they were not married at the time. But, when asked if they were in a relationship, she wouldn't comment.

“Seems like way more than a coincidence and the same kind of circular money flowing to people who know each other,” said D.C. taxpayer Kristen Madler.

While Oden would not agree to an on camera interview, she did release a statement, saying “OAH does not have the authority to award such a contract...[it was] handled by another agency."

While that is true, it turns out OAH recommended her husband's company to that agency. And as part of that larger relocation contract, the job was never competitively bid.

“We'll look at this whole situation and make sure all of this is being done properly,” said D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

Mayor Gray has referred the matter to the Inspector General. The incident took place under former Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Government watchdog Dorothy Brizill say only in D.C. could you get away with that one—without so much as an objection.

“It makes me very concerned. And I just add that agency to a pile of agencies that need to be brought under a microscope. In terms of policy, budget, and staffing,” Brizill said.

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