Acting Atty. Gen. Peter Nickles

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A D.C. Council committee has voted to disapprove Peter J. Nickles‘ nomination as the District’s attorney general.

At a meeting this morning of the committee on public safety and the judiciary, chair Phil Mendelson, along with colleagues Yvette Alexander and Mary Cheh, voted against the confirmation. Councilmembers Jack Evans and Muriel Bowser voted to confirm.

Under council rules, the nomination will now proceed to the full council and is likely to be taken up at tomorrow’s legislative meeting. Mendelson tells LL he expects a vigorous lobbying effort from the mayor’s office in the meantime.

More to come.

UPDATE, 12:33 P.M.: A little bit of procedural nitty-gritty on what took place at the meeting: Mendelson changed what had been an approval resolution to a disapproval resolution. Why? To deny the nomination requires an affirmative vote against it. Not acting on or not passing through an approval resolution by the Dec. deadline would have been a de facto approval.

Here’s what Jack Evans has to say: “I’m disappointed that Councilmember Mendelson at the last moment changed the approval resolution to a disapproval resolution….I believe that Peter Nickles overall because of his legal skills and organizational skills is the best person to lead the A.G.’s office at the time.” Evans says his colleagues need to “put aside individual incidents that they had and look at the best interests of the city.” He says he plans to introduce an amendment at tomorrow’s council meeting to change the legislation back to an approval resolution.

Here’s Alexander: “It wasn’t a matter of his competence. I think his qualifications are very impressive. However, he’s representing the District of Columbia. I did have some concerns about his blatant firings and his residency.” The fact that he told councilmembers in hearings that he wouldn’t start his house hunt until after his confirmation, she says, “doesn’t show commitment.”

Furthermore, she says, there’s “too much of a conflict” in his various duties. “He acts in some instances as city administrator. He acts in some instances as heads of agencies…There’s a lot of qualified persons out there. I don’t think he’s the only lawyer running around out there.”

UPDATE, 3:15 P.M.: LL got a perfectly sanguine Nickles on the phone: “I don’t have any reaction. I don’t have any comment. We’ll see what happens when it goes to the full council.”

He had no prognostication as to what might happen tomorrow: “This is within the prerogative of the council,” Nickles says. “Whatever they say is fine with me.”

And here’s a fun excerpt from the committee report: “A nomination submitted to the Council should not be considered a fait accompli. Rather, a nomination instigates the Council’s oversight role in assuring that the candidate put forth is competent, has nothing disqualifying about him or her, understands his or her role and the mission of the agency, has vision for the agency, and will serve in the best interests of the District and its citizens. The Committee believes that the nominee does not meet this standard and recommends to the Council the disapproval of his confirmation.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery