Jack Evans and Patton Boggs: Questions of Conflicts of Interest

From John Hanrahan

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