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Government and People
1327 Girard Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009-4915
202-234-6982, fax 202-232-1215
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
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: __________________ ________________________________
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