Nancy Graham, the former downtown redevelopment official who resigned in 2008 amidst a conflict-of-interest scandal, has surfaced back in Tennessee.
The 65-year-old is an adjunct professor teaching political science and business law at a private college around her hometown of Lebanon, Tenn., wrote the newspaper in West Palm Beach, Fla., where Graham was once mayor. She wouldn’t tell the Palm Beach Post the name of the school.
Graham formerly led the Centre City Development Corp. here, but resigned after we began investigating her relationship to private developers with more than $1 billion in projects proposed downtown. Graham hadn’t disclosed that she was being paid millions by the development companies. She received some of the money while she was negotiating deals that would’ve benefited the companies’ local affiliates here.
The incident prompted an FBI investigation, left CCDC fighting for its political life and derailed almost $2 billion in downtown developments.
She pleaded no contest to a charge of failing to disclose her economic interests and paid a $3,300 fine in court. The San Diego Ethics Commission also fined Graham $32,000.
Here’s what the Post reported:
Graham calls it all a misunderstanding and said she “negotiated in the public’s interest.” When she took the job, Graham said, she was told she didn’t have to disclose income from [her former company] because it did not do business in California.
“Should I have (disclosed)? In hindsight, hell yeah. But I didn’t,” Graham said. “It was stupid on my part.”
Graham called the investigation the “saddest, most painful thing that ever happened to me.” She blames ethics commission staff for targeting her. “I got railroaded,” Graham said. “I understand. I was an outsider. I wasn’t from there.”
So Graham left another city on shaky terms, returning to her hometown, and critiquing West Palm Beach from afar. …
Graham said she is content to remain in Tennessee, with her political career behind her.
Graham is currently prohibited from seeking political office in California.
This is the second time Graham has popped up in the Florida newspaper since the saga here concluded. Writing on the paper’s website in 2010, she downplayed the severity of what happened in San Diego, saying she was investigated to no avail, which isn’t true. We Fact Checked her statement and labeled it Huckster Propaganda, our worst rating.
Rob Davis is a senior reporter at voiceofsandiego.org. You can contact him directly at email@example.com or 619.325.0529.
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