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Government and People
November 7, 2003
Ms. Cecily Collier-Montgomery
Dear Ms. Collier-Montgomery:
This letter is a formal complaint of a violation of District of Columbia laws and regulations regarding election campaigns, lobbying, and conflict of interest by Mayor Anthony Williams and attorney/lobbyist Vincent Mark Policy.
A political consultant to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, Thomas Lindenfeld, is currently suing Mayor Williams and Committee to Re-Elect Anthony "Tony" Williams (hereinafter "the Committee"), alleging that he had contracted to do work for Mayor Williams, both as an individual and as a candidate for office, and also for the Committee, and that Mayor Williams and the Committee have refused to pay debts that they owe him for his services (Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Case No. 02CA005119). In this suit, the Committee is being represented by Douglas J. Patton and the firm of Holland & Knight and Mayor Williams, as an individual, is being represented by Vincent Mark Policy, of the firm of Greenstein, DeLorme, and Luchs (see Attachment A).
To date, this case has required a significant number of hours of legal work that at normal rates would already have cost tens of thousands of dollars. Mr. Policy, however, by his own admission in a letter that he filed as a matter of public record in this case, is representing the Mayor at no charge and has endeavored to keep secret the fact that he is not charging a fee for his services (see Attachment B). Mr. Policy is registered as a lobbyist with the District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance, and he represents the Apartment and Office Building Association (AOBA) and the Washington, DC, Association of Realtors, among others, on matters before the DC government (see Attachment C).
Mr. Policy's representation of Mr. Williams at no charge constitutes a prohibited and illegal contribution to an elected official, and it would do so even if he were to represent Mr. Williams at a reduced or discounted fee.
Relevant Sections of the Code and Regulations
(1) Services provided without compensation, by individuals (including accountants and attorneys) volunteering a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate or political committee.
U.S. Code Title 2, Chapter 14, Subchapter 1, §431(6)(viii)(II) [The term "contribution" does not include any legal or accounting services rendered to or on behalf of] an authorized committee of a candidate or any other political committee, if the person paying for such services is the regular employer of the individual rendering such services and if such services are solely for the purpose of ensuring compliance with this Act or chapter 95 chapter 95 or chapter 96 of title 26, but amount paid or incurred by the regular employer for such legal or accounting services shall be reported in accordance with section 434(b) of this title by the committee receiving such services. . . .
Mr. Policy is a registered lobbyist in the District of Columbia, and Mayor Anthony Williams is an elected official. As such, Mr. Policy is absolutely prohibited from giving to Mr. Williams, and Mr. Williams is absolutely prohibited from receiving from Mr. Policy, anything of value worth over one hundred dollars in any calendar year. This prohibition includes Mr. Policy's legal services.
I contend that Mr. Policy's pro bono representation of Mr. Williams also violates other sections of the elections and ethics laws and regulations of the District of Columbia. Certainly, individuals are not only entitled, but encouraged, to volunteer their time and services to political campaigns, and such volunteer efforts are not considered campaign contributions. However, Mr. Policy's services are not and cannot be considered volunteer services to the Committee.
First, Mr. Policy is explicitly not representing the Committee, which has separate representation. He is representing Mr. Williams as an individual. Therefore, his services do not fulfill the legal requirement that the volunteer activities be performed for the political Committee.
Second, District and Federal law place special requirements and limitations on the type of professional volunteer activities that lawyers and accountants may perform for political committees. While these limitations are not explicitly spelled out in District law, District election officials have a well established practice of relying upon Federal law and regulations in order to interpret District election laws and regulations where they are vague or incomplete. And Federal election campaign laws clearly state that lawyers and accountants may volunteer their professional services to political campaigns only insofar as those services are dedicated to enabling campaigns to comply with election laws and regulations.
A lawyer (provided he or she is not a lobbyist) may freely volunteer legal advice and representation to a committee to keep it in compliance with election laws or to defend it against a complaint of having broken election laws. But the Lindenfeld complaint does not involve election law. It is a matter of contract law. Though some of the services that Mr. Lindenfeld provided related to Mayor Williams's reelection, the dispute over payment of the bill has no relationship to election law. It is therefore outside of the legal area in which lawyers are permitted to volunteer their services to a political campaign.
On the basis of the above discussion, I am requesting the Office of Campaign Finance to investigate whether Mr. Policy's donation of pro bono legal representation to Mr. Williams as an individual violates the election laws and regulations of the District of Columbia — including whether it constitutes an illegal donation of something of value by a lobbyist to an elected official, whether services that are explicitly provided to an elected official as an individual can be considered as having been provided to that individual's political committee, and whether the representation that Mr. Policy is providing in this case falls within the boundaries of legal services that can legitimately be provided as volunteer services to a political campaign.
cc: Mr. Benjamin Wilson, Chairman, D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics
Subscribed and sworn or affirmed to by me this 7th day of November 2003.
My Commission Expires: 07-31-05, Sidney W. Williams, III, Notary
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
THOMAS LINDENFELD, Plaintiff, v. ANTHONY WILLIAMS, et al.,
NOTICE OF APPEARANCE AND SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL
TO THE CLERK:
Please take notice that counsel of record, Robert M. Krasne and Margaret A. Keeley of Williams & Connolly LLP are hereby withdrawing as counsel to defendant Anthony A. Williams ("Williams") in the above-captioned matter, and Vincent Mark J. Policy of Greenstein DeLorme & Luchs, P.C. is entering his appearance as counsel' of record for Anthony A. Williams. Please copy Mr. Policy at 1620 L Street, N.W., Suite 900, Washington, D.C., (202) 452-1400 with any pleadings, orders, or other documents issued by the Court in the above-captioned case.
We also enclose a proposed Order for the Court permitting this substitution of counsel.
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certify that on February 13, 2003, I caused true and correct copies of the foregoing Defendant Anthony A. Williams’ Notice of Appearance and Substitution of Counsel to be served by first class mail upon:
Vincent Mark J. Policy
September 17, 2003
Sherri L. Wyatt, Esq.
Re: Lindenfeld v. Williams, et al., Civil Action No. 02-005119
I noted in your Opposition to our Motion to Compel Attorneys' Fees that you stated to the Court that my services are being provided on a pro bono basis. That information was provided to you in the Mediation and you and Mr. Lindenfeld agreed that any statements made in the Mediation would not be used in Court or made public. By making this statement in your pleading, you have breached that confidentiality agreement.
Attachment C (edited to relevant entries)
Friday, August 08, 2003
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