Ron Collins: For Chairman Vincent Gray’s Attention and Response

Mr. Collins:

Thank you for the information you provided under my Freedom of Information Act request. The information confirms that Councilmember Jack Evans has failed to provide Chairman Vincent Gray with a written statement detailing the reasons for his recusal on the convention center hotel financing legislation in June 2009.

As I noted in my original FOIA request (at the end of this chain of emails), D.C. law and regulations require that when a council member recuses himself because of the appearance of, or actual, conflict of interest, he must file a written statement explaining the recusal with your office, the Office of Campaign Finance and the Board of Elections and Ethics. I cited applicable portions of the law which clearly spell this out. (Please see the Addendum following this letter for some of the citations from my original FOIA application.) Continue reading

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Jack Evans and Patton Boggs: Questions of Conflicts of Interest

From John Hanrahan

SUMMARY: CONFLICTS RE. MARRIOTT AND BREAUX-LOTT/NORTHROP GRUMMAN?
Does the mainstream press in the District of Columbia care about conflicts of interest and ethical problems for members of the D.C. Council other than Marion Barry? If so, why are members of the press corps, of which I was a long-time member, so incurious about the interlocking public-private interests of my Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans?

The facts, which point to a glaring, unmistakable appearance of a conflict of interest by Evans, relate to two recent matters of obvious special interest to Evans’s outside employer, the highly influential Patton Boggs law firm/lobbying firm, which pays Evans $240,000 a year for unspecified services:

1. Evans’s recent unsuccessful effort to provide $25 million — or more, if need be — in tax incentives to defense industry giant Northrop Grumman to move its headquarters to the District of Columbia, rather than to suburban Maryland or Northern Virginia locations that were being considered for the planned move. Evans’s actions helped spark a bidding war between the jurisdictions, as The Washington Post noted editorially. Interestingly, and unreported in the press, Northrop Grumman — which stood to benefit from the bidding war — is a client of the Breaux-Lott Leadership Group. Breaux Lott for the last two years has had a “strategic relationship” with Patton Boggs and, according to press reports in March, was in negotiations to be acquired by Patton Boggs. [NOTE: SINCE I WROTE THIS PIECE, NEWS ARTICLES AND A PATTON BOGGS PRESS RELEASE IN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS REPORTED THAT PATTON BOGGS HAS INDEED ACQUIRED BREAUX LOTT AND ITS CLIENTS, INCLUDING NORTHROP GRUMMAN, PRESUMABLY.]  Appearance of a conflict of interest? Newsworthy? I think so. Continue reading

Chairman Gray FOIA Request

July 19, 2010

Vincent C. Gray, Chairman
Council of the District of Columbia
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Suite 504
Washington, DC 20004

D.C. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

Dear Chairman Gray:

Pursuant to the provisions of the District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act, I request that you provide me with a copy of a statement of an appearance of conflict of interest and recusal by Councilmember Jack Evans pertaining to the $272 million public financing package for the Marriott International convention center hotel. This statement should have been filed sometime in late June or early July 2009, as required by the D.C. Municipal Regulations regarding potential conflicts of interest by councilmembers and other D.C. public officials (Title 3, Chapter 33, “Elections and Ethics Conflict of  Interest and Use of Government Resources for Campaign-Related Purposes,” Rule 3300, 3301, 3302, 3303, 3304, 3305).

I say, “should have been filed” because last July 1, 2009, The Examiner newspaper reported that Mr. Evans recused himself the day before from the final vote on the public subsidy for the convention center hotel “because his law firm, Patton Boggs, represents Marriott.” LINK TO EXAMINER  ARTICLE: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/D_C_-tentatively-OKs-paying-_72M-more-to-finance-convention-center-hotel-7903531-49548487.html

Just a few days earlier, on June 26, 2009, Evans, as chairman of the Committee and Finance and Revenue. had submitted a report to all council members on Bill 18-310, the “New Convention Center Hotel Amendment Act of 2009.” In that report, Evans, who had been actively involved in every step of bringing this bill to a final vote and had theretofore mentioned nothing about any possible conflict, said he was recusing himself  “from the consideration of this measure in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.” He offered no further explanation of his late-stage recusal in his committee report to council members, nor did he explain how this appearance of a conflict had only developed at the last moment. Continue reading