Nats Charity Plays Hardball Over Withdrawn Donation
Last year, virtually anyone trying to get a piece of the action in the big Washington Nationals ownership tossup made sure to show up at the September fundraising gala for the team's charitable foundation. Most of the bidders bought $10,000 tables -- just to, you know, Show How Much They Care -- but one gesture stood out: Developer Franklin Haney's public offer to match the evening's proceeds dollar-for-dollar, which turned out to be more than $400,000. Sure, Haney hoped to impress the selection committee but, as he joked to us, "I would doubt it would make any difference whatsoever."
It didn't. Months later, the Lerner family won the Nats. And Haney, lawyers for the foundation told us yesterday, never mailed that check.
The foundation -- which supports youth sports and makes charitable grants -- is suing Haney in D.C. Superior Court, claiming breach of promise and fraud and seeking $4 million in punitive damages on top of the original $400K.
Haney, a former Democratic office-seeker with a small empire of hotels and offices across the South, could not be reached at his D.C. offices; his son said he was traveling. Attorney Larry Blust denied that Haney "had any binding promise to make a contribution here" and said the suit is without merit. But foundation attorney Geoff Gitner said Haney signed an agreement when he asked for permission to make his announcement at the gala.
"Mr. Haney believed his pledge would earn him some support with Major League Baseball, the District and the media," Gitner said. "This was like a political campaign. He was essentially seeking votes. When he didn't get the office he decided he didn't have to keep his promises."
Matthews, Signing Off and Checking In
Goodbye parties are so much better when the guest of honor is leaving voluntarily! After 31 years in the fickle world of local TV news, WJLA anchor Kathleen Matthews signed off for the last time yesterday to become an executive veep of communications for Marriott International.
|New Marriott veep Kathleen Matthews got down to housekeeping.(Pete Hakel - WJLA-TV)|
Matthews returned the thanks with special shout-outs to the three people critical to her success: Nanny Gianna Allentuck, hairdresser George Ozturk and accountant Brian McQuade. She took the job because it was the right time for something new: Her youngest child is headed off to college next fall, clearing the way for round-the-world trips to exotic destinations. "Part of me is 'Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?' " she said. "But I'm really excited. This is the next big adventure."
THIS JUST IN . . .
Why does this sound familiar? Snoop Dogg was arrested Tuesday night near L.A. after a Jay Leno appearance on charges of -- what else? -- drug and weapons charges; police said they found a handgun, marijuana and cocaine in his car. He's still facing charges for that early November arrest for carrying a collapsible baton onto an airplane and for that October incident when police found a gun and marijuana in his car at the Burbank airport.
Hey, maybe this movie thing will work out for Ted Leonsis! The AOL vice chairman and Caps owner got word yesterday that a $2 million documentary he financed about the Japanese occupation of China, "Nanking," has been accepted into competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?
GOP strategist Ed Gillespie and Michael Steele lunching downtown at Morton's Tuesday. The two Republicans had a heart- to-heart over steak and salad, undoubtedly plotting Maryland's soon-to-be-ex- lieutenant governor's next gig after his runner-up finish in the U.S. Senate race. But where's that cute puppy?