D.C. Council member David A. Catania has left his $240,000-a-year executive job with a prominent local construction firm that is doing an increasing amount of business with the District government.
Catania said Friday that he left his post as vice president of corporate strategy for M.C. Dean Inc. in late December to devote more time to his new duties as chairman of the council’s education committee.
When making his case for the education post with Chairman Phil Mendelson, “I led with my willingness to reduce my outside activities,” he said. “I realized it would take more time to focus on it than if I were vice president of corporate strategy with M.C. Dean.”
He is not breaking all ties with M.C. Dean, whose revenues approached $900 million in 2011. Catania said he is in talks to join an unnamed law firm, most likely in a salaried position, where he will manage existing litigation involving the company.
“I have certain responsibilities with not leaving the company high and dry on a couple of matters that have nothing to do with D.C.,” he said. Catania said he has no “interest or intention at this time” to take on new work beyond those matters.
While Catania generally avoided participating in legislative matters in which his outside employer could be see as having an interest — recusing himself from a vote on electrician licensing, for instance — his work for a city contractor provided grist for critics on and off the council.
Colleague Vincent Orange (D-At Large) has been particularly outspoken, introducing a bill last week that would bar companies who employ council members or staff from holding city contracts.
When Catania took the executive position, M.C. Dean had only one significant piece of business with the city: a $9 million-a-year deal to maintain traffic signals. Since then, the firm has pursued other big-ticket D.C. contracts — a $50 million streetcar construction project and a streetlight maintenance deal potentially worth $100 million or more.
Catania said he has not been involved in the company’s business decisions related to the District government, adding that they were “part of a plan that predated” his time as vice president.
Before taking the vice president job in 2011, Catania served as general counsel for OpenBand, a cable telecommunications firm that is a subsidiary of M.C. Dean. He had previously worked for the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
Three other council members hold outside jobs — jobs that have, at times, presented conflict of interest concerns.
Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) is of counsel at the law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs. Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) is a George Washington University law professor. And Anita Bonds (D-At Large) is
vice president corporate relations director at Fort Myer Construction Corp., a major city road paving contractor.