A prominent realtor and Democratic Party financier asked the wife and law partner of Prince George's County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan to work on a multimillion-dollar development deal that Hogan opposed, leading Hogan to conclude that the realtor had "tried to buy me by buying my wife," according to Hogan associates.
Ilona Hogan, the county executive's wife, confirmed that she was approached by realtor Irving Kidwell last spring to represent K-W Realty in negotiations with United Parcel Service, which had been unable to win Hogan's support for the construction of a distribution center along Interstate I-95 in Laurel.
Asked about the reports of his associates, Lawrence Hogan would only say, "It was obviously an attempt to curry favor with the county executive."
K-W Realty, which Kidwell operates with his longtime political ally, former Democratic county executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr., has been attempting to develop a large tract of land along I-95 that includes the proposed UPS site. Kidwell was attempting to become the parcel company's real estate agent when he approached Ilona Hogan with the request that she represent his firm.
Ilona Hogan said she refused to represent K-W Realty because she realized that the developers eventually would have to negotiate with county agencies administered by her husband. Only later, she said, did she learn that her husband had already expressed doubts about the distribution center in separate meetings with UPS officials and a second developer interested in the project.
Kidwell refused to say yesterday whether he had attempted to hire Ilona Hogan. But he maintained that K-W had no reason to seek the favor of Lawrence Hogan, who defeated Kidwell's partner, Kelly, in the race for county executive last fall.
"I don't need a goddamned thing from Larry Hogan to take that development right on through," Kidwell said. "It's all zoned. Every rule and regulation has been checked out. There's no way anybody can stop this development."
However, Kidwell said, "I would like to have Hogan's blessing."
At this point, that blessing does not seem likely. "I never said no, I will absolutely never approve this," Hogan said. "But it's another warehouse, and we are looking for high-quality development along the I-95 corridor."
"It's not a warehouse," Kidwell argued. "It's a goddamn beautiful distribution center. I do everything first class."
"If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck," Hogan responded, "then it's a duck. And this is a warehouse."
According to county economic development officials, the parcel service has been attempting to build a new distribution center in Prince George's for several years, and is now considering several possible sites, including the tract east of I-95 at Rte. 128.
Hogan first met with UPS representatives last December, and told them that he would not support the 200,000-square foot building they proposed if it were simply a package center that did not include a company headquarters or other development.
County economic development officials later were approached by a local development firm, Potomac Group Investors, that proposed a large office park development along I-95 that would include the parcel service's plant. Hogan said he did not react positively to this plan, either.
Meanwhile, Kidwell, who had been separately attempting to develop the I-95 property for two years, heard of the proposed building and contacted UPS, hoping to arrange for the company to build its plant as part of his project.
In late April or early May, Kidwell said, the company agreed to allow K-W Realty to become its "real estate consultant" on the project. He said two different law firms now work with K-W on the project. But he refused to say who they were.
"I've had discussions with probably 50 different law firms," Kidwell said. "There are cases where you need different types of lawyers. Certain lawyers are specialists in some areas."
Kidwell said that his new partner Kelly, who was still county executive when UPS first began discussing its new plant with county officials, had sat in an "a couple of meetings" about the development plans as a K-W representative. But he said that "as far as anyone could remember," Kelly had had no involvement in the project while county executive.
Kidwell also said that no one in the K-W firm had approached Lawrence Hogan since the firm began working with UPS. The project is still in a preliminary stage, he said, because K-W has not arranged to purchase the land.
"I haven't asked the county for a damn thing," Kidwell said. "I'm trying to build a bank complex and computer center and hotel. But there are people who are trying to destroy these clients, and I am working with my attorneys on the slander area."
"If publicity on this...destroys me from coming in on this (development), it's going to cause me a hell of a financial loss," Kidwell said. "I don't think this is anyone's business except my own."
Hogan has been criticized in recent weeks for supporting a state-backed loan for a construction project by District Moving and Storage, a firm represented by his wife. CAPTION: Picture 1, LAWRENCE J. HOGAN...says realtor "tried to buy me" ; Picture 2, ILONA HOGAN...says realtor's offer was refused