It looks like there will be plenty of jockeying in the near future as councilmembers try and outdo each other on ethics reform.
At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange just sent word to his colleagues that he plans to push emergency legislation next Tuesday to establish an task force on ethics and accountability. Orange’s task force would comprise the chairman of the Board of Elections and Ethics, the director of the Office of Campaign Finance, the attorney general, special counsel for ethics in the AG’s office, the inspector general, the city’s auditor, and the chief financial officer. Its mission would be, among other things, to draft a “code of ethics” for elected officials.
“This emergency legislation is necessary to address the recent allegations of ethical improprieties in the council,” Orange’s office says in a memo to his colleagues, which is sure to make him a lot of friends.
Given the sorry state of affairs of the council, it’s not the worst political plan in the world to try and be seen as an ethics champion.
Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh have their own ethics bill, which incidentally also calls for an ethics advisory committee. Ward 6 Councilmartyr Tommy Wells has introduced a bill that would try and stop campaign donation bundling (good luck with that one).
Earlier this week Brown told The Washignton Times that he’s in “a perfect position” to push ethics reform. Apparently, Orange feels like he’s in the perfect position as well. He’s holding a news conference Monday morning to tout this legislation.
Update: Wells also sent a memo to his colleagues today asking them if they’d like to co-sponsor legislation that would prohibit registered lobbyists from donating to campaigns and constituent service funds. Umm, isn’t that the lifeblood of District politics?
Wells is also looking to place restrictions on lobbyists giving councilmembers discounted legal help, reducing the amount of money politicians can raise for consistent service funds from $80,000 a year to $10,000 a year, and placing donation limits on political committees.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery