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Neil Albert is facing a $15,000 fine from the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability. It’s the latest lump for the former chair of the D.C. Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.
According to a settlement agreement dated March 3, BEGA found that Albert failed to disclose his romantic relationship with Paola Moya, who runs the architecture and design firm Moya Design and was awarded two contracts from DCHA. The two own homes in North Carolina and in D.C., where they live together, according to the BEGA settlement.
The first contract, awarded in 2018, was worth $305,000. Albert did not vote to approve the contract, but he signed off on the board’s resolution granting approval.
The second contract, awarded in 2021, was worth between $50,000 and $3.75 million. Albert voted in favor of the award and signed off on the resolution as board chair. Albert did not disclose his relationship with Moya in either case.
At the time, Albert was also president and executive director of the DowntownDC Business Improvement District, which also had a contractual relationship with Moya Design. Her firm also leased space in the BID’s K Street NW office. Albert resigned as DCHA board chair last October, and stepped down from the BID in March after he was told he would be fired.
Albert is also under federal investigation for his mixing of personal and professional business. Albert, DCHA, and the Downtown BID reportedly have received subpoenas, though it’s unclear where the investigation stands. He did not return a phone message seeking comment.
BEGA’s investigation did not uncover any evidence to show that Moya received help behind the scenes to qualify for either contract, or received improper scores, the settlement says, noting that she learned of the opportunities through a listserv.
But DCHA Board Commissioner Bill Slover raised those exact questions during the board’s June 9, 2021 meeting. Before the board voted, Slover questioned why Moya received the highest score in a category reserved for larger firms with greater capacity to deliver services, but scored sixth in the category reserved for smaller firms.
When reached by phone this morning, Slover says BEGA never interviewed him for its investigation. He says a BEGA investigator canceled their original interview and never rescheduled.
During the meeting, Slover also questioned whether any of the firms had submitted conflict of interest disclosures. None had, according to the then-head of DCHA’s contracting office Lori Bonds.
“Great. So thanks, everyone, for your questions,” Albert said before calling for a motion to approve the contract for his girlfriend. John Falcicchio, Bowser’s chief of staff and deputy mayor for planning and economic development, chimed in first. Falcicchio is an ex-officio member of the DCHA board by virtue of his role as deputy mayor. The resolution passed 7-3.
Ashley Cooks, the director of D.C. Office of Government Ethics, did not immediately return a phone message.
Ultimately, BEGA found that Albert used his official position in a way that he knew was likely to benefit his own or Moya’s financial interest and failed to disclose his relationship with her, violations of the District’s Code of Conduct. As part of the agreement, Albert neither admits, nor denies the findings. His fine is due Sept. 1, and he must attend OGE’s ethics training within six months if gets another D.C. government job.