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Following a week of criticism and outcry, At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange is set to resign his D.C. Council seat after taking the top job at the D.C. Chamber of Commerce. NBC4’s Tom Sherwood reported early Friday the flashy lawmaker was “in talks” to step down, and that the Chamber job could be in jeopardy if the lame duck lawmaker balked. The Post too reports that Orange is resigning effective Aug. 15.
Orange made the audacious move last week to accept the CEO position at the D.C. Chamber of Commerce while simultaneously planning to serve out his Council term. The chamber lobbies the D.C. government, where Orange is not only a councilmember but also the chairman of the body’s business committee (earlier this week, after much criticism, he said he would relinquish that post).
“I don’t want to be really harsh, but it’s his tone deafness about what is a conflict of interest, what is ethically required [as a councilmember], that has led to him being rejected by the voters,” Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh tells City Paper, referring to Orange’s June primary loss to Robert White. “It’s a long history, and this is just a continuation of it.”
She says the entire sordid episode calls into question “everybody’s judgment,” including the chamber’s. “Did no one really consider how this would play out? It really does call into question the judgment about how they went about it.”
Cheh calls Orange’s decision to take a job that’s so obviously a conflict of interest ”blatantly hypocritical,” noting that he has curiously criticized her role as a tenured professor and has been a vocal opponent of councilmembers holding jobs in addition to their $134,852 positions on the D.C. Council.
So what happens now? At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds, who is chair of the D.C. Democratic Party, says the party probably would appoint someone to fill the vacancy given that Orange is a Democrat.
“The Nov. 8 election is coming up in a few weeks, really,” Bonds says. “So I’m really not sure what the Board of Elections’ time frame would be, but when they notify us, we could invoke our authority to appoint someone based on a selection or election process.” (The Board of Elections didn’t return a call asking for an explanation about what the process would be.)
In other words, the 83 members of the DC Democratic State Committee would vote to appoint someone for the job. That appointment could be White, who is expected to win the seat easily in November’s election.