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D.C. Council Backs Off Pressuring Mayor to Select Ethics Panel

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Council Backs Off Ethics Panel Pressure

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray

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The D.C. Council backed off a move to strip Mayor Vincent Gray of his right to appoint all three members of a new ethics commission.

The D.C. council was locked in fights over several issues Tuesday, including mental health funds, welfare benefits, taxes on investment bonds and restoring pay for furloughed workers -- among other budget issues -- but couldn't come to agreement on any of it.

Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser wanted to pressure Mayor Gray to make the ethics panel appointments, but the council put off tough action on that, too. Mayor Gray is more than two months late in making the appointments while ethics issues plague the city government.

“I think it's very important that if you're going to vote for the law to create the board then you have to stand by it and make sure it happens,” Bowser said.

Bowser's emergency proposal Tuesday would have given one of the mayor's three appointments to Council Chairman Kwame Brown, but Brown said he wanted the mayor to have 30 more days to fill the crucial panel that still hasn't been created.

The ethics board will enforce ethics rules and laws in the wake of several scandals, including former member Harry Thomas Jr.’s personal use of $350,000 in city grant funds, for which he will be sentenced Thursday.

"The mayor is fully committed and will soon send nominations to the council,” read a statement from the mayor’s office. “Our primary concern is getting the most qualified candidates. It should be about quality, not speed."

The ethics panel is just one of many boards and commissions that have major vacancies awaiting action by Mayor Gray. 

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