Loose Lips

VO Pushes for Ethics Committee (Updated)

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

  • StrangeFruit

    Tommy Wells, since you author the bill to prevent campaign bundling, do you plan on returning any of the thousands of bundled campaign contributions you received last year during your re-election bid?

    It's public information and can be found on DC's Office of Campaign and Finance website. And, of course City Paper will NOT consider investigating it because it's Tommy Wells and not the other Tommy!

  • StrangeFruit

    correction, Tommy Wells, since you "authored"...

  • Ward 6 Resident

    I suspect Wells will get the same degree of support for his Council Bills as he received from his fellow council members when he sought their support in keeping his Committee Chairmanship as head of the Transportation Committee.

  • LongTimeRez

    Vincent Orange and ethics legislation... now there's an oxymoron for ya!

    It's about time we had some candidates for office who pledge to abide by the term limits voted for 70-plus percent of this city's electorate (and then overturned by our illustrious Council). Said candidates would also pledge to re-establish the voters' mandate of term limits--once in office.

  • candycane1

    Code of Ethics? Please! Go down the list and the question is how many council members are NOT associated with a scandal? This bunch is expected to produce a code of ethics? The fact that a special code of ethics is needed speaks volumns about this group. Being ethical, having integrity and remembering who you really work for doesn't come to mind until election time when they ask you to "trust" them, I'll protect you tax dollars, I'll work for jobs, I'll bring in economic development, I won't tolerate nepotism, blah, blah, blah.

    Long Time Rez is correct. The citizens already established a way to curb unethical behavior with term limits and the council overturned what the citizens voted for. How's that for ethics?

  • Truth Hurts

    Three cheers for Wells. Shame on any CM who thinks it's ok for lobbyists to bankroll legislators they lobby. And shame on any CM who thinks it's ok for lawyer lobbyists to provide free/discounted legal services to legislators they lobby.

    This one's an ethical no-brainer.

  • DC Now

    This council is the worst ever! Kick all of their asses out of office.and start over.
    Ethics, for this group, that is laughable!! Wells ,Orange, Brown are working on ethics reforms...get real.

  • BiteMe

    I would only entertain Vincent Orange's ethics plan because he is the only one who is fresh on the council and is not apart of any of the scandals.

    I dont understand why everyone is complaining about their local politicians, you did vote right? You had the chance NOT to vote for Kwame Brown for Chairman, you had the choice to NOT vote for Harry Thomas, you even had the choice to NOT vote for Mayor Gray.

    You make the bed your lay in so stop crying about how lousy our council is, get active, understand the facts and make better decisions as to who you want to lead your city.

    Until you can find someone who honestly has a better resume for service, and can have a respectable name in the political world, which I doubt you honestly can find in Washington DC, your vote is the only thing that will make change.

    Someone new on the scene will not necessarily beat the establishment, and someone new on the scene might not be the best move for the city. Someone send my regards to Sekou Biddle...

  • tony

    I hate to say this but out of all the Councilmembers, Vincent Orange is the one who really can be beaten. He is truly vulnerable. Unlike his colleagues, VO does not have a solid constituency that can guarantee him an election. His support amongst the senior citizens is lukewarm. His support amongst African-Americans, in general, is weak. His support amongst the black middle class is limited. His support amongst the white community is conditional. His support amongst the gay community is fragile. Again, he lacks a strong constituency that he can really rely upon. And, this is so because his politics are misplaced. For example, VO was put back into office, by and large, by the voters east of the river. Yet, he has not supported or introduced one single piece of legislation that benefited that community. In fact, he has again become an advocate of the board of trade and the chamber of commence. VO may very well have friends in those communities, but his supporters are elsewhere. And, I have a strong feeling that come next year’s election, he will find this out the hard way. In my judgment, a young white progressive like a Brain Weaver could defeat VO by winning wards 1,2,3,6, and posting a respective showing in ward 5, 7, 8. Given Weaver's community activism which includes his history with Howard University that help shaped his very progressive agenda which emphasis protecting social programs, fiscal creativity, and tax modification proposals could render him a cross-over candidate and expose him to a greater voter base. The likes of a Brain Weaver can beat Vincent Orange.

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