The Government Contracts Monitor frequently addresses cases involving conflict of interests pertaining to government contractors. A recent case demonstrates that lawyers, and even judges, can also be involved in conflict of interest allegations related to procurements.
On February 6, 2014, the District of Columbia Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (“BEGA”) filed a lengthy Notice of Violation against Mary Oates Walker, Chief Administrative Law Judge for the District of Columbia Office of Administrative Hearings (“OAH”), and Kiyo Oden Tyson, OAH General Counsel. According to the Notice, in addition to being OAH colleagues, Walker and Oden were partners in a property management company.
First, according to the allegations in BEGA’s Notice, Walker hired Oden as the General Counsel for OAH without following standard hiring procedures. This misstep was critical given their private business and financial relationship.
Second, Walker and Oden, along with their management company, allegedly received a private gain as a result of Oden’s hiring as the General Counsel.
Third, during her deposition, Walker allegedly obstructed BEGA’s investigation – specifically in connection with her testimony regarding the signatories on the partnership’s bank account and Oden’s capital contributions to the partnership.
Fourth, when OAH was scheduled to move to new office space, Walker allegedly used a company owned by Oden’s then-fiancée and now husband, to provide furniture relocation services. Although Department of General Services (“DGS”) representatives told Walker that D.C. procurement regulations had to be followed for the selection of such a vendor, Walker proceeded to use the company for the work – to the tune of $43,346. Thereafter, Walker allegedly obstructed BEGA’s investigation into this furniture relocation contract.
Walker, through counsel, has denied the allegations. The case is scheduled to go to trial before the Ethics Board on March 25, 2014. We will report back on the outcome.
Brian Stolarz is the attorney responsible for the content of this article.
© Jackson Kelly PLLC 2014