D.C. Deputy Mayor Alphonse G. Hill, amid indications that he may resign his post soon, has acknowledged in an amended financial disclosure statement that he received a $3,000 payment from a District contractor last December and accepted free lodging from another city contractor and a local bankers' lobbying group.
Hill's disclosure this week of the payment from Hill, Taylor & Co. comes at a time when a federal grand jury is investigating whether he received kickbacks or other financial incentives from the head of the accounting firm, which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in city auditing contracts since 1981.
Mayor Marion Barry said yesterday that he had accepted Hill's explanation that the $3,000 was a finder's fee for business that Hill said he referred to the accounting firm, but stressed that it was inappropriate for the deputy mayor to have taken money from a firm doing business with the city.
"I don't condone or encourage this kind of transaction," Barry said. " . . . Even if it is legal . . . I don't think top officials in my administration ought to be taking money from contractors doing business with the District government."
Interviews with a number of high-level administration officials and sources close to Hill indicate that Hill is giving serious consideration to resigning. Key Barry aides, stung by the recent corruption conviction of former deputy mayor Ivanhoe Donaldson, are known to be anxious to defuse the growing controversy over Hill's conduct before it undermines the credibility of the city's financial management.
"You reach a point of diminishing returns," said one mayoral aide. "The question is, have we reached it?"
Another Barry adviser termed recent press reports that Hill had received the $3,000 payment as "devastating." The aide said Barry would have to move quickly to control the damage.
Barry said that Hill informed him over lunch yesterday that Hill had filed the amended report with the Office of Campaign Finance on Wednesday.
The original report, filed by Hill on Dec. 30, made no mention of the $3,000 nor the free lodging he received when he attended two separate conferences at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.
City contractor John Clyburn, president of Decision Information Systems Corp., said Hill shared a cottage Clyburn rented last year while both of their families attended a meeting of the Democratic Business Council, a fund-raising arm of the Democratic National Committee. Clyburn, who described Hill as a friend, said his invitation was not related to city business.
At another conference last year, sponsored by the D.C. Bankers Association, the lobbying group paid for a cottage Hill shared with John Pollock, the president of the National Bank of Commerce and an officer in the association, according to Pollock. The lodging, Pollock said, was in exchange for a speech Hill delivered to the organization.
The mayor, crediting Hill with a key role in straightening out the city's long-tangled finances, said he did not believe the latest disclosures represented a "watershed" for Hill and had not asked for his resignation.
However, high-level Barry aides and political advisers said the payment disclosure dramatically altered Hill's prospects for outlasting the controversy.
"There had been nothing prior to that but unsubstantiated allegations," said one of the mayor's political advisers. "Whether it's right or wrong, it's going to look bad anyway . . . not because of Barry's reelection campaign but because of the smoldering controversy surrounding city government now.
"We cannot afford to have a crisis of confidence, especially with regard to the financial management of the city," the adviser said.
Hill declined to comment on the financial disclosure statement yesterday. Last summer, when he began receiving subpoenas in the grand jury investigation, Hill offered to leave, according to Hill and two other city officials.
"I think he cares too much for the city, the mayor and the people who he brought in the government to let them be dragged through what's been going on," said a Barry adviser. "I think he probably will resign."
The federal grand jury has been examining the relationship between the deputy mayor and his longtime friend, James Hill Jr., head of the Chicago-based Hill, Taylor & Co. firm.
Within a year after the accounting firm opened a branch office in the District in 1981, it received more than $200,000 in city auditing contracts. Alphonse Hill, who has said he recommended the firm, among others, for auditing contracts, has strongly denied ever receiving any financial favors in return. James Hill has described the federal investigation as a "fishing expedition."
The $3,000 payment was first disclosed in an interview last Friday by James Hill's attorney, Adam Bourgeois, who said it was not related to any city government business. Bourgeois said the payment was "a matter of courtesy" for the deputy mayor's referral of business to the accounting firm.
Keith Vance, director of the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, said Alphonse Hill assured him the payment was not related to city business.
"I have taken the position that it is not a conflict of interest, based on the facts I have before me," Vance said.
Vance said that a city official may accept money from firms doing business with the city as long as it does not influence his official conduct and he reports it.
The law requires that the disclosure be made wthin 30 days after a payment is received, but Vance said he regarded Hill's failure to report the payment on his Dec. 30 filing as an "inadvertent omission."