Council members Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, and Michael A. Brown, at-large independent, both lawyers, took home more than $200,000 each in outside pay in 2009. Neither disclosed any clients they represented, though Mr. Evans did report the name of the law firm that employs him, Patton Boggs LLP.
Two other council members with six-figure outside salaries disclosed information about their employers. Council member David A. Catania, at-large independent, disclosed earning $120,000 per year as general counsel of OpenBand of Virginia LLC, a licensed telecommunications carrier and a wholly owned subsidiary of Northern Virginia-based M.C. Dean. On disclosure forms, Mr. Catania said he recuses himself from any matters involving M.C. Dean, which has held contracts with the D.C. government.
Council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, has reported earning more than $200,000 from her job as a law professor at George Washington University.
Neither Michael A. Brown nor Mr. Evans listed any information about the clients they work for in their law practice. Michael Brown also did not identify the name of the law firm where he works, disclosing only that he had earned $250,000.
A spokeswoman for Michael Brown said he earned the money from his position as a lawyer at the Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge law firm. Asked whether he would consider making public the clients for whom he works, the spokeswoman said Mr. Brown is in full compliance with all city ethics rules and regulations.
Mr. Evans listed Patton Boggs as his employer because ethics rules require lawmakers to identify employers doing business with the District. Patton Boggs has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years lobbying Congress on behalf of both the city’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development and the office of the chief financial officer, which is overseen by the council finance committee that Mr. Evans heads.
According to U.S. Senate forms, the lobbying relationship terminated last year.
Mr. Evans, who reported earning $240,000 as a lawyer at Patton Boggs, has recused himself from matters involving the firm’s lobbying work for the District. Patton Boggs has a long list of federal lobbying clients.
As a council member, Mr. Evans worked on a tax-abatement deal last year to help lure defense giant Northrop Grumman to the District, though the plans never materialized. Subsequently, Patton Boggs filed papers with the U.S. Senate indicating that the firm was lobbying Congress on behalf of Northrop Grumman on unrelated federal issues.
In general, the lack of disclosure about outside legal work leaves the public in the dark, with lawmakers in a position to decide what constitutes a potential conflict and when to report it, Mr. Holman said.
“Outside income is an ideal opportunity for a business to curry favor with a legislator, especially when that outside money may be substantial and when disclosure is incomplete or even nonexistent,” Mr. Holman said.
“The incomplete records of Mr. Evans, for example, fail to arrest citizen concerns of undue influence peddling,” he said.
Those same questions also concern D.C. resident John Hanrahan, a former Washington Post reporter who first raised questions about Mr. Evans‘ work on the Northrop Grumman tax deal last year on the website of the watchdog group D.C. Watch. Mr. Hanrahan said there was an appearance of a conflict of interest.
Mr. Evans‘ office did not respond to e-mail questions about his work for Patton Boggs. In 2003, the Office of Campaign Finance issued a formal opinion stating that Mr. Evans‘ role as chairman of the council’s finance committee would not pose a conflict of interest with his employment with Patton Boggs as long as he continued to refrain from any activity suggesting his roles on the council and law firm overlapped.View Entire Story
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Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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