The D.C. Housing Finance Agency board, in apparent response to a growing controversy over the relationship between D.C. City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) and an adviser of hers, Woodrow Boggs Jr., last night unanimously approved a resolution designed to uncover any potential conflicts of interest on the part of outside professionals it hires.
The resolution requires that professionals, such as bond counsel or investment advisers, file an affidavit disclosing any written or oral contracts they have with agency members or employes, or with lobbyists or consultants.
Based on those affidavits, the agency could then review whether any conflict exists, said board member John J. Mason, who introduced the resolution.
The action comes in the wake of revelations that Jarvis, chairwoman of the council's powerful Housing and Economic Development Committee, directed representatives of five major bank holding companies to meet with Boggs to discuss how to win council approval to open or acquire banks in the District.
Boggs has no official connection with the City Council.
A Citicorp vice president in charge of the bank's lobbying of the D.C. government authorized a $28,200 payment to Boggs, who has a consulting firm.
The U.S. attorney's office has begun an investigation of Jarvis' and Boggs' involvement with the five bank companies, according to law enforcement sources.
Jarvis, as committee chairwoman, has authority over banking and housing legislation in the District and last year succeeded in getting legislation passed to strengthen the council's control -- and therefore her own -- over the housing agency and the projects it finances.
HFA, created in 1979 to help finance housing for low- and moderate-income persons, has authority to sell tax-exempt bonds and use the proceeds to make funds available for home mortgages and construction loans.
The legislation approved last year gives the City Council the authority to approve or disapprove HFA bond issues. Mayor Marion Barry vetoed the bill, but the council overrode the veto.
Board member Mason, asked if his resolution was related to the controversy surrounding Jarvis and Boggs, said that the newspaper revelations indicate "it's an appropriate time to reaffirm what the board should be doing."
Mason added that he does not know of any relationship that Boggs has formed with agency members or any of the agency's hired professionals, and that the resolution was not directed at Boggs.
"It's an ongoing responsibility of the board to make sure that the professionals that we deal with act responsibly and in an ethical manner," he said.
He said that the professionals already working for the agency, as well as those that deal with the agency in the future, should file affidavits with the disclosures. "We should find out for ourselves if any conflict of interest exists," Mason said during the discussion of the resolution.
Specific language will be included in a proposed affidavit to be considered at an agency board meeting Tuesday, board Chairman Jerome Shuman said.