Airports Board Spent $1.5M On Martire's Lawsuit | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Airports Board Spent $1.5M On Martire's Lawsuit

Play associated audio
The Metropolitan Airports Authority Board has come under fire in the past year for transparency and ethical issues. Now, the total cost of the legal fees spent defending one of its members is being released.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dcmetroblogger/8255018169/
The Metropolitan Airports Authority Board has come under fire in the past year for transparency and ethical issues. Now, the total cost of the legal fees spent defending one of its members is being released.

The agency managing the construction of the Silver Line rail project spent more than $1 million in legal fees in two lawsuits defending one of its board members in a battle with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

A confidential Metropolitan Airports Authority board memo obtained by WAMU 88.5 details $1.5 million in legal fees spent defending Dennis Martire, a board member and labor union official who agreed to resign from the MWAA board in September.

The McDonnell administration in June tried to oust Martire from the board.  He sued to keep his seat, and the airports authority agreed to reimburse his legal expenses. His subsequent resignation was part of his settlement of the case. He was reimbursed $855,000, according to the memo.

Martire noted Monday he was entitled to legal assistance under MWAA policy.

“We have an indemnification policy that every board member has the right to due process and every board member has the right to face their accusers if you are accused of anything,” said Martire, who drew intense criticism after an federal inspector general's report found he traveled to five conferences costing $38,000 in travel expenses in his capacity as an MWAA board member.

Martire, for his part, believes he was targeted for political reasons, namely, that the McDonnell administration wanted greater control of the MWAA board.

"The governor was removing me for booking a plane ticket two weeks before a trip, and we spent $1.5 million dollars of MWAA money to defend that case. It's ludicrous," Martire said. "There is a movement afoot to make it an all-Virginia board. There is a movement afoot to make it a Republican-dominated board."

The confidential memo says the airports authority also spent $360,000 to defend itself and one of its top officials, and nearly $200,000 was spent defending three other board members — Rusty Conner, Todd Stottlemyer, and former Virginia Rep. Tom Davis —  who were subpoenaed during the litigation. 

MWAA chief counsel Phil Sunderland did not return multiple calls seeking comment. Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton, a critic of the airports authority, also could not be reached for comment.

Update, 6 p.m. Tuesday: MWAA released a statement Tuesday, confirming Martire's assertion that he was entitled to legal fees according to the organization's bylaws. The $855,000 figure was set by a "neutral third party," based on a review of the invoices issued by Martire's law firm.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, May 26, 2015

You can reminisce with classic Latino pop songs or hear what’s new in Spanish-language poetry.

NPR

How Dangerous Is Powdered Alcohol?

Last month, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved a powdered alcohol product, making both parents and lawmakers nervous. Some states have already banned powdered alcohol. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with Brent Roth of Wired, who made his own powdered concoction and put it to the test.
NPR

Obama Administration Forced To Defend Strategy Against ISIS In Iraq

On this Memorial Day, the Obama administration finds itself defending its foreign policy strategy in Iraq where the self-proclaimed Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has captured the city of Ramadi.
NPR

For Aspiring Artists, Social Media Can Get Fans Too Close For Comfort

The power of social media is that aspiring artists can essentially invite fans into their living rooms, but fans can sometimes overstay their welcome.

Leave a Comment

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