House Bill Requires Background Checks For D.C. Appointees

D.C. Council bristles at proposed federal intervention

By Patrick Madden - WAMU 88.5 FM
|  Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011  |  Updated 9:59 AM EDT
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House Proposes Background Checks for D.C. Officials

NBCWashington.com

The D.C. Council discussing ideas to police its ethics.

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After the hiring scandals earlier this year at D.C. city hall, a member of Congress is calling for mandatory background checks for high-level District government employees.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House committee that oversees District affairs, says until city leaders "stop apologizing for outrageous abuses in government," congressional action is need to protect against "cronyism."

Issa’s measure would require criminal background checks for top-level political appointees, as well as mandated strict hiring standards for all D.C. government employees, including checks for drug and alcohol abuse.

City leaders immediately blasted Issa’s proposal. Council member Mary Cheh says Congress is injecting itself where it's not needed and notes D.C. has already passed the reforms Issa is calling for.

The proposed legislation comes on the heels of a report by Issa’s committee on one of the most infamous hiring scandals in D.C. -- the one involving former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown.

In that case, committee investigators could not find "direct evidence" Brown was promised a job by Mayor Vincent Gray's campaign for help during last year’s race, according to the report. It also found that Brown has significant credibility issues. Federal investigators are still looking into the possibility of wrongdoing in the case, however. 

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