Friday, April 15, 2011
(Washington D.C. -- David Schultz, WAMU) Metro is moving forward with a $200 million contract extension for the company that operates its MetroAccess transit service for people with disabilities -- despite some questions about whether the contractor may have engaged in unethical lobbying.
Documents obtained by Transportation Nation partner, WAMU, show the contractor, MV Transportation, hired a lobbyist who until recently served as one of Metro's top executives and a member of its Board of Directors. The lobbyist, Emeka Moneme, sent emails to several of the advisers to the Metro Board requesting meetings to talk about MV, just nine months after he left the agency. Metro's ethics rules prohibit its executives from working on Metro-related business for at least a year after they leave.
Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter
One of the advisers who received an email from Moneme forwarded it to WAMU. Through a public records request, WAMU has obtained a copy of a second email sent from Moneme's office to another Metro Board adviser. The second email also requests a meeting to discuss MV, and is almost identical to the first.
WAMU has contacted all the advisers to the Metro Board, but almost half have not responded. Of those who did, all -- including the two who received emails from Moneme -- say they did not agree to a meeting with him nor with anyone representing MV Transportation.
Moneme has refused to discuss the matter. MV says it hired him to do "community outreach," not to lobby his former co-workers.
Metro's General Manager Richard Sarles says he believes its contracting process has not been compromised, and a formal investigation has not been launched. Sarles says the advisers to Metro's Board of Directors serve in a voluntary capacity not on Metro's payroll. Therefore, Sarles says, Metro's ethics rules do not govern them.
Sarles acknowledges that, in government contracting, sometimes the mere appearance of impropriety can be as damaging as actual impropriety itself. “I’m always concerned that we have the appearance of proceeding the way we should with regards to our procurement rules," he says.
But Sarles says, because none of the advisers agreed to meet with Moneme, he's confident Metro's ethics procedures are being followed. "To my knowledge" he says, "thus far, those procedures have not been violated.”
MV Transportation's contract extension is scheduled to come up before the Metro Board for a final vote later this month.
(To see a copy of the email Moneme sent, visit WAMU's website.)
Thursday, March 24, 2011
By Kate Hinds
(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU) Metro is delaying the extension of a nearly $500 million contract after reports that the contractor may have hired one of Metro's former top executives to lobby on its behalf.
MetroAccess is operated by the private company MV Transportation, which is one of Emeka Moneme's clients at the lobbying firm where he now works. Moneme is a former senior Metro executive turned lobbyist.
Metro's board of directors was scheduled Thursday to grant a two-year contract extension to the company MV Transportation, which operates MetroAccess, Metro’s paratransit service for people with disabilities. According to several sources within Metro, the extension was almost a formality.
But now, the board has removed the extension from its agenda for Thursday after reports that MV hired Moneme.
WAMU obtained a private email from Moneme's office in which he requests an in-person meeting with an advisor to Metro's Board to discuss the company and the MetroAccess program.
A spokesperson with MV Transportation says it hired Moneme to do "community outreach," not lobbying. Moneme refuses to comment.
Cathy Hudgins, the chair of the Metro board, says she wants answers about exactly what Moneme did and who instructed him to do it.
Listen to the story below. And read TN's previous coverage of this issue here.
The Revolving Door: Despite Ethics Rules, Former Metro Executive Now Lobbying On Behalf Of Metro Contractor
Monday, March 21, 2011
(Washington D.C. -- David Schultz, WAMU) A private email obtained by WAMU shows that Emeka Moneme, a former top executive at D.C.'s Metro, may have violated ethics rules by lobbying his former coworkers on behalf of one of Metro's largest contractors.
Metro says it still believes in the integrity of its contracting process.