Nickles, Thomas will battle in court
D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) has been ordered into court Tuesday morning for a hearing about whether he has to comply with a subpoena from Attorney General Peter Nickles over his fundraising activities.
Earlier Monday, Nickles filed a "petition for immediate enforcement" with the D.C. Superior Court over his request for documents related to Team Thomas, a nonprofit that Thomas operates that isn't registered with the Internal Revenue Service.
Nickles wants information on the group's donors and expenditures, which Thomas has not released to the public.
Nickles said a hearing has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in Superior Court.
"Since he is not willing to do it voluntarily or by subpoena, we now need a court order, which is extraordinary," Nickles said. "This is a very unusual situation where a council member has refused to provide a single document."
Thomas's attorney, Frederick D. Cooke, said he plans to fight Nickles's subpoena, arguing that he does not have the "authority" to demand the documents from a council member.
Cooke said Thomas plans to voluntarily release the information, but will not do so under pressure from Nickles.
"If it were not for this crazy litigation, he probably would have released it today," Cooke said. "We have never said to Peter and never said to anyone else, this is not information we did not want and did not believe should be public, but we do not believe Mr. Nickles has the authority to do this."
Cooke refused to explain his legal justification for arguing that Nickles did not have the authority to issue the subpoena. He said he will appear in court on Thomas's behalf and was unsure whether his client will also be there.
In a letter sent to Nickles last week, Cooke said the investigation into Thomas was politically motivated. Thomas has been a frequent critic of Nickles and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).
"He wants to muscle in and prove to people he has power that I don't think he has," Cooke said in an interview.
Nickles scoffs at suggestions he's being vindictive, arguing that he's merely trying to keep public officials accountable for how they use their offices to raise money.
"Allegations have been made about contributions sought by an entity advertised on (Thomas's) Web site, and we asked for the documents, which is pretty ordinary," Nickles said.
-- Tim Craig
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