Loose Lips

Attorney General Sues Gas King Joe Mamo

District Attorney General Irv Nathan is giving more scrutiny to D.C. gas baron Joe Mamo, who owns nearly half of the District's gas stations.

The District filed suit yesterday against Mamo, three of his companies, and ExxonMobil, alleging that Mamo's agreements with Exxon unfairly eliminate competition from other gasoline wholesalers. Mamo owns gas stations, sells wholesale gasoline to the station dealers from Exxon, and, Nathan alleges, forces the dealers who run his gas stations to buy Exxon gasoline from his own company.

That cuts out other Exxon wholesalers who could sell to the stations, according to the attorney general, hurting District consumers' chances at lower prices. (For the full run-down on Mamo, check out Christine MacDonald's 2011 Washington City Paper profile.)

In a statement released yesterday, Mamo says he'll fight the lawsuit.

“The District of Columbia is targeting distributors for legitimate operating agreements that have been in place for years and that are similar to operating agreements and dealer arrangements in jurisdictions across the country," Mamo says.

This isn't the first time Mamo and Nathan have tangled. Nathan's office investigated Mamo in 2011 for unfair trade practices, but, last year, Nathan said he decided not to sue.

Mamo's a heavy-hitter in District politics, employing former councilmember John Ray as his lobbyist. With the three companies named in the lawsuit alone, Mamo gave $17,750 to District candidates, according to Office of Campaign Finance records. A tally from 2011 that included Mamo and his family members put his contributions at almost $60,000, along with $42,100 to federal and state candidates.

Previous attempts to crack down on Mamo's expansive business have been described as attacks on Mamo's civil rights. Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh's ultimately doomed 2011 attempt to ban wholesalers from running gas stations earned denunciations from the Congressional Black Caucus and Jesse Jackson as an attack on a successful African-American businessman.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • JustAsking

    Wondering how much the Rainbow Coalition got from Mamo as the Good Reverend is nothing but pay for play when it comes to defending businesses...

  • Typical DC BS

    @JustAsking: Hit that nail on the head. Jesse and family are the originals when it comes to the racial extortion game. Al Sharpton is right below them.

  • John

    Mamo's: The Gas of Race! (Apologies to Tome Servo and Crow)

  • jeffery vaz

    mamo is an extremely smart individual who know how to use the system to his advantage at the expense of district residence.
    I have been an exxon dealer for over 35 years and Mr Mamo who never work one day for Exxon now owns my station because he paid of some members on the City Council to deprive all Exxon Dealers the right to buy their stations.Most Exxon dealers who had leases with Exxon are no longer in business because Mr mamo isnow there landlord,supplier and competitor. This is such a sad situation.l

  • http://donresnikofflaw.com Don Allen Resnikoff

    The situation described in the AG's Complaint is a sad one, both for station owners and consumers. Losing a business after 35 years of hard work, as Mr. Vaz describes, has to be painful. But the AG's Complaint is good news for aggrieved station owners. The AG's Complaint deserves great respect as a public document that is open and aboveboard and can float above any petty politics. The public airing of issues that will follow should be supported by all, including station owners and consumers. Previously hidden facts are likely to be revealed. Station owners and consumers do have important legal rights under special local laws as well as local and federal antitrust laws. Station owners past and present can be proactive and positive in redressing perceived grievances, including supporting the AG's Complaint request for injunctive relief. (Disclosures: I worked for the AG's Office a few years ago, but I am not privy to confidential information on gasoline issues. I am a lawyer with local gasoline station clients.}

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