The Board of Estimates yesterday deferred approval of a $262,000 contract with a Washington lobbyist – but executing the agreement is just a matter of time because, The Brew discovered, the mayor has already signed the document.
While the contract was postponed for one week – hours after we wrote a story about it – there is little chance that it will be critically reviewed or rejected by the board.
That’s because Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake controls three of the panel’s five votes and can therefore win approval of the contract to Van Scoyoc Associates and its chief lobbyist, Kevin F. Kelly.
Nothing less than unanimous approval appears likely. In interviews with The Brew, neither of the board’s independent members – City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Comptroller Joan Pratt – expressed any reservations about the contract renewal yesterday.
Fees Gotten, Contributions Given
Kelly’s firm has racked up $1,060,000 in city fees since they were hired in 2000 by then-Mayor Martin O’Malley. It has been granted repeated contract extensions by the Board of Estimates without any competitive bidding.
A resident of McLean, Va., Kelly paid $5,000 in campaign contributions to Rawlings-Blake’s 2011 election, state records shows.
In recent years, the lobbyist and his partner, H. Stewart Van Scoyoc, have also given $13,000 to O’Malley, $5,250 to U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, $5,000 to the Maryland Democratic Central Committee, and $28,000 to the campaign committees of Lt. Gov. Anthony W. Brown and his running mater, Ken Ulman.
$300 an Hour
Kelly, a lawyer who worked 11 years for Barbara Mikulski in both the U.S. House and Senate, has not responded to emails and phone calls to his Washington office seeking comment.
But details of his agreement with the city emerged yesterday from documents filed by the city.
As a “senior principal,” Kelly will be paid $300 an hour by the mayor’s office, while members of his team will be paid between $100 and $200.
The firm will be able to charge up to $10,916 per month for its activities and submit up to $10,000 in expenses over the two-year renewal period.
Van Scoyoc describes itself as “a political champion that the city may not already have.” Its services, it says, will include strategic advice, strategic intelligence, relationship building, legislative advocacy and legislative marketing.
Much of the work will involve working with Maryland’s congressional delegation led by Senator Mikulski. As noted in the agreement:
Consultant’s approach is to put the City in front of its delegation. Consultant shall prepare the City with all of the necessary strategy and background materials, but the City’s selective, active participation is critical to success as a team.
After initial contact with congressional offices are made, Consultant shall then provide the necessary follow up and advocacy activities with staff on the various pieces of the City’s agenda and bring City back to Washington as necessary for selected, carefully choreographed sessions.
Van Scoyoc says it will engage in weekly discussions with the Mayor’s Office of Government Relations between October and mid-February.
It calls this period the busy season for strategizing and advising the city about federal appropriations.
Asked yesterday why the contract was postponed for a week, the mayor said, “I don’t have any information on that.” She said she would be getting an update from her government relations office.
Andrew Smullian, director of the office, did not respond to a Brew request for comment.