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Posted at 01:45 PM ET, 03/12/2012

Joe Mamo strikes back at Cheh’s ‘pay-to-play’ suggestions


Joe Mamo in 2011 (Mark Gail - The Washington Post)
Last week, D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) fingered local gas station magnate Eyob “Joe” Mamo for inspiring a new bill that would crack down on campaign giving.

She noted the more than $40,000 worth of campaign contributions that went to opponents of a Cheh-sponsored bill that would affect his ability to both own gas stations and supply them with gas, versus the $6,300 he’d given to those supporting the bill.

“Could there be more direct cause-and-effect between showering people with money and voting a certain way?” she asked.

Through a statement delivered via a spokeswoman, Mamo said he is “confounded and perplexed” by Cheh’s “pay-to-play” claims, accusing her of a “personal vendetta” and doing the bidding of station operators who charge some of the city’s highest prices.

“Her supporters are charging the highest prices for gas in the region, and in many instances, the country,” he said. “Her bill was designed to support those few high-priced dealers at the expense of everyone else.”

Those who voted against her bill, Mamo’s statement said, “actually did their job and voted in the best interest of their constituents and those who purchase gas in the District — killing a bill with provisions that do not exist in any other jurisdiction in the country.”

“It is time for Ms. Cheh to set aside her personal agenda and do what’s right for those in the District,” it continues. “Someone needs to call her on it. Enough is enough.”

Responding via her own spokeswoman, Cheh denied playing favorites with station operators and said Mamo “hopes to deflect attention from the bottom line: his concentration of control in the District’s gasoline market has increased the price of gas ...”

She continues: “Mr. Mamo has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to lawyers, lobbyists, and agents, and in contributions to certain Councilmembers because he knew that by killing my bill, his payoff would be in the millions — millions paid out of the pockets of D.C. residents.”

Mamo’s statement in full:

I am confounded and perplexed by D.C. Council member Mary Cheh’s (D-Ward 3) recent comments that “she saw evidence of ‘pay-to-play’ in the final vote that killed the bill” in the Council last month.  Several supporters of Cheh’s special interest bill are the owners of the highest priced gas stations in the District.  Their mark-ups range from 40 cents to $1.25 per gallon when the national average for profit per gallon is 16 cents.  Her supporters are charging the highest prices for gas in the region, and in many instances, the country.  Her bill was designed to support those few high-priced dealers at the expense of everyone else.  Council members Cheh, Tommy Wells, Michael Brown, David Catania, Jim Graham, and Phil Mendelson should be spending their time protecting their constituents from these high-priced dealers, not supporting them.  They should be outraged at the prices these stations are charging.  Instead, they supported Ms. Cheh in her latest attempt to game the system in order to reward her friends – all while accusing others of doing the same. 
 Her latest attack on me is yet another way to satisfy her personal vendetta against me and my company – a company that has renovated or built more than a dozen gas stations in the District in the last 10 years, and in 2010 alone, contributed $14 million in tax revenues to the City’s coffers.  It is an insult to Council members Muriel Bowser, Yvette Alexander, Marion Barry, Kwame Brown, Jack Evans, and Vincent Orange who actually did their job and voted in the best interest of their constituents and those who purchase gas in the District — killing a bill with provisions that do not exist in any other jurisdiction in the country — one that the FTC said would increase gas prices.  It is time for Ms. Cheh to set aside her personal agenda and do what’s right for those in the District.  Someone needs to call her on it.  Enough is enough.

And Cheh’s:

By calling my bill a personal vendetta, and making other silly claims, Mr. Mamo hopes to deflect attention from the bottom line: his concentration of control in the District’s gasoline market has increased the price of gas here by about 8 cents in just two years when compared to Maryland and Virginia.
The FTC study Mr. Mamo relies on did not examine my bill, nor the D.C. market as it is, and I do not have any “favored” stations or a “special interest” in this issue. Also, despite Mamo’s claims to the contrary, provisions of the bill are in place in jurisdictions like California, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Northern Virginia.
Mr. Mamo has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to lawyers, lobbyists, and agents, and in contributions to certain Councilmembers because he knew that by killing my bill, his payoff would be in the millions – millions paid out of the pockets of D.C. residents. I fear the effects of his concentration of market power will only multiply to the detriment of us all.
Mr. Mamo may make bundled contributions to Members, but he simply cannot buy new facts.”

By  |  01:45 PM ET, 03/12/2012

 
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