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Committee of 100 and Federation of Citizens Associations
Joint letter on Councilmember Jack Evans’ recusals on Convention Center Hotel
July 10, 2009




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July 10, 2009

Hon. Vincent Gray, Chair
Hon. Jack Evans, Councilmember
Council of the District of Columbia
John Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20004

via e-mail PDF

Re: Convention Center hotel funding recusals

Dear Chairman Gray and Councilmember Evans:

The revised Convention Center hotel bill (B18-310) proposes a significant increase in public support for the project on top of the previous TIF commitment, which is already law, for a total subsidy of $206 million. Mr. Evans voted on the original TIF subsidy, and recently has been active and ardent in supporting additional potential public assistance up to 100% of the total cost of the hotel--at one point estimated to reach $750 million—as well as possible D.C. ownership of the hotel. The current newly revised deal appears to place D.C.’s fiscal contribution and subsidy at a commitment level of approximately 40 percent of the project cost, as we understand from evolving publicly disclosed details, including a July 6 article in the Washington Business Journal.

We noted and remarked on Mr. Evans’s four recent recusals regarding B18-310: twice during the June 26 mark-up session of the Committee of the Whole; and again on June 30, on the bill’s first reading in formal Council legislative session. We respectfully request Mr. Evans to disclose fully the reason for these recusals (including any potential or perceived conflicts), as well as any activities and income relevant to this project prior form January 1, 2005 when his immediately prior term of office began, through June 26 of this year.

As Mr. Evans has indicated publicly, the hotel project has been discussed and planned “since 2001,” and to our knowledge he has not recused himself before. Rather, he has been significantly and proactively engaged in moving this project toward fruition as a sitting, voting member of the Council. We also ask Mr. Evans to disclose any attorney-client relationship between his law firm and the Marriott corporation, the anticipated principal of the Convention Center hotel. We pose the following specific questions:

1. Since January 1, 2005, did Mr. Evans provide any compensated or uncompensated legal services to any party to the proposed hotel transaction, including but not limited to the current lead groups with whom D.C. is negotiating? If so, on what occasion(s)? Did Mr. Evans’ name appear on any bill or invoice for legal services or expenses for any party participating in the proposed transaction?

2. During that period, did Mr. Evans provide compensated or uncompensated legal services on matters unrelated to the proposed hotel project to any party who was involved at any point in the hotel project?

3. Did Mr. Evans participate in any calls, meetings, or correspondence regarding the proposed hotel project with members, associates or attorneys otherwise affiliated with his firm, or other employees of the firm, since January 1, 2005? In any such case, was Mr. Evans participating as a councilmember or as a legal advisor or representative, whether or not compensated? If he participated other than as a member of the Council, whom was he representing?

4. What new information or considerations gave rise to the recent recusals? Please explain why recusals were advisable at this time but not earlier.

When questions arose during the June 26 mark-up session as to why this project should not be rebid at this time, now that D.C. is willing to provided increased public support, Councilmember Kwame Brown replied that no one had contacted him expressing renewed interest. One interpretation for the lack of interest is that the market is poor. Another may be that potential bidders believe that the deal is somehow “locked in.” This concern is a factor in our request for the above-discussed disclosure.

Accordingly, we respectfully request a public response to these considerations and questions before a second vote by the Council, whether Mr. Evans intends to recuse himself or not. We respectfully ask that no final vote take place prior to a response to our inquiries.

So that these kinds of issues do not come up in the future, we urge all members of the Council to commit to providing more detailed disclosure of outside income, activities, and professional advisory relationships through periodic reporting to the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance. Should this require new legislation, we would be pleased to offer recommendations once these immediate questions are put to rest.

Thank you for your time and attention.


/s/ Laura M. Richards
Laura M. Richards, Esq.
Committee of 100

/s/ Carroll Green
Carroll Green
Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia

cc: Hon. Kwame Brown, Councilmember
Mr. Peter Nickles, District of Columbia Attorney General
Mr. Thorn Pozen, Special Ethics Counsel, Office of the D.C. Attorney General
Ms. Cecily E. Collier-Montgomery, Director, Office of Campaign Finance
Mr. Brian Flowers, General Counsel, Council of the District of Columbia

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