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D.C. Council member’s cousin is listed in $215 million no-bid gambling contract

D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) appears at his inauguration ceremony at the Walter E Washington Convention Center in Washington on Jan. 2, 2018.
D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) appears at his inauguration ceremony at the Walter E Washington Convention Center in Washington on Jan. 2, 2018. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

The cousin of a D.C. Council member who cast a deciding vote for a no-bid sports gambling contract is listed as the chief executive of a business that would receive $3 million under the deal, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post.

D.C. officials awarded a five-year, $215 million contract to the Greek gambling company Intralot to manage the city lottery and an upcoming online sports betting program.

Plans that Intralot submitted to city officials list Keith McDuffie — cousin of D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) — as the chief executive and point of contact for Potomac Supply Co., a subcontractor that would receive $3 million over five years to supply commercial paper products. The plans are required to demonstrate that Intralot is meeting city targets for including local and minority-owned businesses.

Reached on Thursday, Keith McDuffie said he has no involvement with Potomac Supply.

Okera Stewart, who is listed in corporate filings with the city as the company’s owner and principal, said Keith McDuffie is just a longtime friend.

Keith McDuffie “has no financial ownership [interest]” in Potomac Supply, Stewart wrote in an email. He said Intralot mistakenly identified McDuffie as his company’s chief executive.

Byron Boothe, the Intralot executive who signed the subcontracting plan on June 7, did not respond to an email and phone call seeking comment. Neither did Emmanuel Bailey, a local businessman whose company holds a majority stake in the gambling contract.

Reached by phone Thursday, Keith McDuffie said, “I don’t know anything about Potomac Supply Company.” He declined to say whether he was involved with any sports gambling or lottery business.

Keith McDuffie is a founding partner of J.L. Terrell Construction, which lists the same H Street NE address on city registration records as Potomac Supply.

When the D.C. Council began discussing whether to circumvent the usual competitive bidding process to award the sports betting contract on a sole-source basis, Kenyan McDuffie, the council member, had expressed misgivings.

But he backed the contract last week when it narrowly passed the D.C. Council 7 to 5.

Asked about the document listing his cousin as chief executive for a subcontracting company, the lawmaker said in a statement that city records indicate Stewart “is the sole owner and operator of Potomac Supply Company. I have not seen, nor do I have knowledge of, any documents to the contrary.”

Kenyan McDuffie previously told The Washington Post that he was not familiar with Potomac Supply but said he had known Stewart and his family “for years.”

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The Post obtained the subcontracting plan through a Freedom of Information Act request with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, which regulates the lottery. Keith McDuffie and Potomac Supply were not listed in an earlier confidential version of the plan obtained by The Post before the council vote.

The sports gambling contract was the subject of intense scrutiny at D.C. city hall , with some lawmakers raising concerns about potential cronyism and the suspension of competitive bidding rules meant to ensure the best deal for taxpayers on government projects.

Critics noted that several other subcontractors had political connections, including a marketing firm led by a former campaign aide to Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), a former member of the State Board of Education and a law firm that lobbied for the legalization of sports gambling.

Several lawmakers also called on D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who championed sports betting and a sole-source contract, to recuse himself from the vote on the contract because of his private business relationship with William “Billy” Jarvis, a lobbyist associated with Intralot. Evans declined to do so.

Emails provided to The Post show that Keith McDuffie sent contact information about Potomac Supply to Bailey, a top executive on the gambling contract, a week before Intralot signed its subcontracting plan.

Stewart said he thinks that email may have confused Intralot officials into believing that McDuffie was involved in the company. He said he asked McDuffie to send that email because he was having technical problems with his own email account.

“He is a childhood friend. I knew he would get this done for me,” said Stewart, who has organized a fundraiser for Kenyan McDuffie with the lawmaker’s cousin. “In retrospect, I probably should have had my wife do it.”

Financial records provided to the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development, which certifies companies in the city’s minority contracting program, list only Stewart and his wife as involved in operations at Potomac Supply.

Stewart, who also has had business ventures involving medical wigs, education and pharmaceuticals, said he was drawn to sports gambling as a business opportunity for Washingtonians. He said he has secured deals with paper suppliers but has not signed a final agreement to work with Intralot.

“Mr. Keith McDuffie has nothing to do with Potomac Supply Company,” Stewart said.

“I do want to be very clear: I am a Washingtonian here and I’m trying to go after an opportunity that I worked hard for.”

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