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Interpretative Opinion 97-04: Conflict of Interest

April 17, 1997
 

Ms. Marianne Coleman Niles
c/o Bertrand S. Thomas, Administrator
Office of Documents and Administrative Issuances
Suite 520
441-4th Street, NW
Washington, DC  20001

Re: Post Employment Conflict of Interest

Dear Ms. Niles:

This responds to your request for an opinion concerning the post-employment restrictions applicable to your acceptance of an offer of employment with the Washington Sports & Entertainment, L.P.  You state that your responsibilities will include ensuring the timely opening of the MCI Arena scheduled for October 1997, the legal and technical logistics associated with the MCI venture, and would involve coordination with relevant city agencies such as the police, fire and public works departments.

Further, you state the following in consideration of the proposed [employment] transaction: (1) that Washington Sports & Entertainment, L.P. is a Maryland limited partnership and general partner of DC Arena, L.P.,  (2) that DC Arena, L.P. is the lessee of certain “arena land” real property and  is responsible for the development of the MCI Arena; (3) that, as Secretary of the District of Columbia, you served as contract administrator for the MCI arena as related to environmental processes and related contracts and services administered by the District of Columbia Sports Commission; and (4) that, after an Exclusive Rights Development Agreement was executed with DC Arena, L.P. in March 1995, your involvement in arena development was limited to monitoring the DC Sports Commission’s arena-related contracts relative to environmental remediation and historic preservation, etc.

The post-employment activities of former DC Government employees are governed by Title 18, United States Code, Section 207, as implemented by Chapter 18 of the District of Columbia Personnel Regulations (Regulations), §§ 1814 and 1815 (copy enclosed).  Under these provisions, you are permanently prohibited from “knowingly acting as an attorney, agent, or representative in any formal or informal [appearance] before an agency, or making any oral or written communication to an agency with intent to influence that agency, on behalf of a party as to a particular matter involving a specific party if the employee participated personally and substantially in that matter as a government employee.” (Emphasis added) 18 DCR. § 1814.4 and 1814.5.

Further, a former government employee is prohibited for two (2) years after terminating government service from knowingly acting as an attorney, agent or representative in any formal or informal appearance or making any oral or written communication to any agency with intent to influence that agency on behalf of another party as to a particular government matter involving a specific party if the former employee has official responsibility for that matter.  18 DC R. §§ 1814.6 and 1814.7.  (Emphasis added)

Moreover, a former senior employee is prohibited for two (2) years from knowingly representing or aiding, counseling, advising, consulting or assisting in representing any other party (except the District of Columbia) by personal appearance before an agency as to a particular government matter involving a specific party if the former senior employee participated personally and substantially in the matter involved.  18 DCR. §1814.10. (Emphasis added)

Based on the facts you presented, although your work for the District of Columbia Government as Secretary of the District of Columbia and as General Counsel to the District of Columbia Sports Commission involved the MCI Arena project (particular matter)  in various limited capacities, it appears that your prospective employer, Washington Sports & Entertainment, L.P., was not involved specifically in matters within the scope of your employment or jurisdiction with  the District of Columbia Government.  Consequently, it is our opinion that there would be no restriction relative to your acceptance of employment with Washington Sports & Entertainment, L.P.