Acting Atty. Gen. Peter Nickles
Acting Atty. Gen. Peter Nickles

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After yesterday’s 12-1 D.C. Council vote to turn his job from a mayoral appointment to an elected position, Attorney General Peter Nickles called the legislation a disaster.

Councilmember Phil Mendelson says Nickles flip-flopped on the issue.

During yesterday’s run up to the vote, Mendelson circulated a memo to his colleagues on the dais providing a timeline of Nickles’ evolution.

Following the first public hearing on the legislation, Nickles wrote Mendo on March 3, 2008. Nickles stated: “Thank you for suggesting that we work collaboratively to draft legislation to make the Attorney General of the District of Columbia an elected official. We are happy to participate in the workgroup created to draft a bill which will meet the approval of Congress.”

And then on Jan. 27, Nickles told the Examiner that he supports the idea of an elected AG. He is quoted as saying: “I like the idea of bringing democracy to the District.”

And finally, in a July 10, 2009, written statement for the public hearing on the bill, Nickles wrote:

“I am already on record as being in favor of an elected office. I strongly favor the idea of bringing democracy to the District and an elected Attorney General would be a step in that direction.”

However in his same statement, Nickles went on to argue that he in fact did not approve of an elected AG position because it would insulate the city’s top lawyer from the mayor’s influence, direction, and oversight. Which Nickles claims is a bad thing.

Nickles wrote that electing an AG would “destroy the lines of accountability that enable the Mayor to direct the legal functions of the District government.”

So Nickles really didn’t want the council to approve this bill all along.

One council staffer called Nickles’ arguments a joke. “The mayor isn’t left vulnerable. All the sudden, the poor mayor. He has tons of fucking lawyers that can defend his ass. Talk about perverting the system. How embarrassing—-12 to 1 it passed, this is Jack ‘Count the Votes’ Evans.”

File photo by Darrow Montgomery.