Finally some good news for hapless Metro board chairman Mortimer Downey. The District’s inspector general has closed its ethics investigation into Downey’s consulting contract, according to documents obtained by LL through the Freedom of Information Act. Further, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has decided not to pursue it themselves.
The ethics complaint filed by the District’s Office of Inspector General against Downey, first reported by the Washington Post in September, was gathering steam as early as June 24, according to internal emails.
Closed by OIG in October, the complaint alleged that Downey’s position as a paid adviser to engineering company and major Metro contractor Parsons Brinckerhoff—a position which Downey has since vacated—was a conflict of interest. Metro paid the company $81 million over several years for projects including the botched construction of the Silver Spring Transit Center, for which Metro is seeking $25.8 million in damages.
Downey ended his 10-year stint with Parsons Brinckerhoff—during which he was paid $100,000 per year to work four days per month—in July. Downey says the position was approved on a yearly basis by Metro’s general counsel.
Emails show that while the potential conflict was identified as early as June, District Inspector General Daniel Lucas then had to ride a merry-go-round of jurisdictional issues between the District, the General Services Administration, and WMATA. Now, in a statement provided by Metro spokesman Dan Stessel, Downey says WMATA’s ethics committee decided “no additional investigation or action is warranted.”
Downey denies rumors that he has been asked to resign from the board and says he will finish his term, which is up for renewal in January.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery