Fewer D.C. Council members report outside income


Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) won the 2013 derby for most outside income among D.C. Council members, collecting about $230,000, mainly from her law professor job. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

It has become a staple of D.C. Council campaigns: The pledge to serve as a “full-time council member.”

Whether or not the politics have influenced the trend, there are now more full-time council members: Fewer lawmakers reported earning significant outside income last year to supplement their nearly $130,000 salaries, newly filed financial disclosure reports show.

Only two council members — Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) — reported significant and ongoing outside income for 2013. David A. Catania (I-At Large) has relinquished the outside employment that once paid him in excess of $200,000 a year, and Michael A. Brown, who reported a sizable lobbying salary in 2012, left his at-large seat after losing his re-election bid that year.

Evans reported $190,000 in earnings from his of-counsel position at the Patton Boggs law and lobbying firm, the same as his 2012 earnings. Cheh reported income of $207,263 from her post as a George Washington University law professor, plus another $22,504 from delivering bar review lectures and about $2,000 in royalties from her legal writings. That’s down somewhat from Cheh’s outside earnings in recent years, such as the $280,000 she reported in 2010.

Catania in 2012 reported nearly $250,000 in earnings from serving as a vice president for the M.C. Dean construction firm. Early in 2013, after leaving the company, he took a salaried job with the Greenberg Traurig law firm in order to wrap up legal matters he had handled at M.C. Dean. That engagement ended in August, according to Catania’s 2013 report, paying him $88,000.

Anita Bonds (D-At Large), who was appointed to the council in late 2012, kept an outside job through April 2013 — shortly after she won a special election for the post. Her financial disclosure indicates she earned a raise with her election, reporting $27,826 in earnings from four months of work as a Fort Myer Construction Co. executive.

Also possibly in line for a raise is Brianne Nadeau, the Democratic nominee for the Ward 1 council seat being vacated by Jim Graham (D-Ward 1). Nadeau, who is favored by most observers in the general election, reported about $80,000 in earnings from her public relations job with Rabinowitz Communications. She has expressed support for banning outside employment for council members.

Charles Allen, the Democratic nominee in the Ward 6 race and likely successor to Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), worked for the District government in 2013, as Wells’s chief of staff, and did not have to disclose his income. But a public database indicates that he’ll be looking at a small raise: In January of last year, Allen made $119,000, while Wells made $128,202.

The reports also require officials to disclose ownership interests or investments worth more than $1,000 in business enterprises regardless of whether or not they are doing business in the city. (Joint investment vehicles, like mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, are exempt.)

Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) made the most extensive disclosures, reporting stock holdings in various firms together worth more than $700,000. They include three closely regulated companies doing business in the District — Comcast, Pepco and Verizon — plus some firms that might seem at odds with Mendelson’s generally liberal political stances. Those include Imperial Tobacco Group, JPMorgan Chase, Chevron and ExxonMobil — the latter two notable given Mendelson’s introduction of a bill that would require the District to divest its investments in fossil-fuel-related companies.

Cheh reported owning IBM stock worth $10,665, and council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) reported owning a stake in a firm called Urban Detail Properties as well as small stock holdings in Coca-Cola Corp., General Electric, MetLife and Verifone. Also, McDuffie and Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large) both reported owning income properties in the city.

Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who reported accepting nearly $7,000 in gifts from two city contractors in 2012, kicking off an ethics investigation that ended in his censure and loss of committee chairmanship, did not report accepting any gifts from so-called “prohibited sources” last year.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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