Regent's Business Dealings Detailed

By Matthew Mosk and Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 17, 2006

These are the many affiliations of David H. Nevins:

He chairs the board that runs Maryland's public universities. He owns a consulting firm with several clients that do business with the academic institutions he oversees.

Twice during his tenure, he has been named to top executive positions in private industry, both times joining companies that were doing extensive business with the universities. And throughout, he has raised thousands of dollars for political friends on both sides of the aisle -- fundraising totals that appear to put him in excess of the legal giving limits in Maryland, records show.

"He's wearing so many hats, it's gotten hard to keep track," said Del. Frank S. Turner (D-Howard), who oversees the university system's budget.

This week, a group of his fellow regents were in Annapolis conducting the first of two ethics probes focusing on Nevins, an ally of two governors who for 30 years has been a consummate insider in Maryland's cliquish political culture.

Nevins said he is ably juggling his university system post while also doing work for some of the state's largest corporations. And he is doing so, he said, without those various interests colliding. The fundraising totals, he said, are not accurately recorded.

"I am neither embarrassed nor defensive about any of [it]," he said in an e-mail response to questions. "I would never do anything to bring harm or damage to my colleagues on the Board, for whom I have the most respect, or to the University System, for which I fight everyday."

He said that the inquires are without merit and that he expects they will go nowhere. "I believe I have done nothing wrong, but look forward to the conclusions of the groups officially charged with conducting those reviews," he said.

Board members said that they still have confidence in Nevins but acknowledged concern this week that another ethics scandal could tarnish the reputation of a board that has seen two of its previous three chairmen leave service under a cloud.

In 2004, former chairman Nathan A. Chapman Jr. was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison for defrauding the state pension fund and other offenses. Chapman's predecessor, Lance Billingsley, took heat in 1999 and eventually resigned after he was paid to help clients gain access to then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D).

The General Assembly passed a law in response to Billingsley's activities stating that regents "shall not, for compensation, assist or represent any party in any matter before the General Assembly."

Some top lawmakers said Nevins flirted with that prohibition last month when he attended a series of meetings with them on behalf of Constellation Energy Group, the state's largest power company.

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