After winning the mayoralty in 2006, Adrian M. Fenty set about filling his top staff positions with young, self-possessed types. One exception was his choice of longtime family friend Peter Nickles, a top litigator at Covington & Burling, as his general counsel—he was old (68) and self-possessed.
Since then, Nickles has pissed off pretty much everyone in town. A mere smattering: There’s At-Large Councilmember Carol Schwartz, who demanded, unsuccessfully, that he move into the District from his Great Falls, Va., horse farm. There’s former attorney general Linda Singer, who reportedly quit after repeated bigfooting from Nickles on various issues. There’s Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, who called him a “puppet” of Fenty after Singer’s resignation. There’s Dorothy Brizill, who’s been at odds with Nickles dating all the way back to a Jan. 10, 2007, letter from Nickles asking the fiery watchdog to watch her “respect and candor.”
All this has been a blast to watch, in no small part because Nickles cares not a whit about who’s shitlist he’s on. Fenty has been a resolute supporter, and if there ever was a guy who doesn’t need this job, it’s Nickles—he’s clearly in it for the love of the game. How much longer that’ll last is unclear; Nickles has been interim attorney general since Singer’s departure in January. If he decides he wants the permanent AG job—a decision that would involve a council confirmation and a move to the District—get ready for the feuds to become all-out battles.