Felony Provision Almost Derails D.C. Ethics Bill | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Felony Provision Almost Derails D.C. Ethics Bill

Play associated audio
Ethics legislation narrowly avoided a roadblock in the D.C. Council Monday, as two provisions provisions in the bill proved stumbling-blocks in committee.
Wikimedia Commons
Ethics legislation narrowly avoided a roadblock in the D.C. Council Monday, as two provisions provisions in the bill proved stumbling-blocks in committee.

As the federal investigation into a D.C. Council member intensifies, the council is rushing to pass ethics legislation before the end of the year. Even so, the legislation was almost derailed Monday as council members in the committee overseeing the legislation raised questions about a couple new provisions in the measure.

The biggest change would create an expulsion mechanism for a mayor or council member convicted of a felony while in office. That would require a change in the city’s charter -- which needs to be approved by District voters -- so it would likely be many months before it became law. Right now, the only way to be kicked out of office is through incarceration. 

Another change being introduced would make it easier to recall an elected official.

It appeared, at least momentarily, that the committee was deadlocked on the measure and that the bill would be delayed -- ultimately breaking Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s promise to pass the legislation before the end of the year, but the committee eventually voted out the bill, setting up a vote before the entire council Tuesday morning.

Some, like D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan, believe that simply legislating away ethics problems isn't enough. Last Thursday, he told the council that while he supports the proposed overhaul measure, when it comes to ethics reform, legislation is not enough: "Not only do elected officials have to comport themselves in an exemplary fashion, but they cannot appear to tolerate questionable conduct by their peers." The council's reaction to the recent scandal involving council member Harry Thomas Jr. is one example, he added.

Brown also mentioned that the council is meeting behind closed doors at 2:30 p.m. Monday to talk about the recent search of the house of Ward 5 council member Harry Thomas Jr. He stands accused of spending more than $300,000 of city funds intended to go towards youth baseball programs for his own personal use.

Thomas Jr. is a member of the ethics committee, but did not show up Monday for mark-up of the bill.

NPR

Finding A Voice — Again — In The Pages Of A Comic Book

David Rector was a long-time NPR producer — and comic book geek — before being felled by a terrible brain injury. Now, his fiancee is spearheading the creation of a comic book based on Rector's story.
NPR

Syrup Induces Pumpkin-Spiced Fever Dreams

Hugh Merwin, an editor at Grub Street, bought a 63-ounce jug of pumpkin spice syrup and put it in just about everything he ate for four days. As he tells NPR's Scott Simon, it did not go well.
NPR

Texas Gubernatorial Candidates Go To The Border To Court Voters

Republicans have won every statewide office in Texas for 20 years, but the growing Hispanic population tends to vote Democrat, and the GOP's survival may depend on recruiting Hispanic supporters.
NPR

Drivers, Passengers Say Uber App Doesn't Always Yield Best Routes

People love Uber, but they often complain the Uber app's built-in navigation doesn't give its drivers the best directions. The company says the app helps drivers and passengers travel efficiently.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.