The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has become a lightning rod for controversy. Its board has been called out from the federal level on down because of a lack of accountability, transparency and sound judgment.
The poster boy for those charges, labor union official Dennis Martire, will step down from the board Wednesday. Most notably, he's been criticized for lavish trips on the authority's dime, including a $9,000 plane ticket to a conference in Prague -- spending he has defended.
Martire didn’t hold back criticism for News4, taking aim at one of his most vocal Gov. Bob McDonnell.
“Now we have elected officials saying, ‘Do this or I’m going to take you off the board. Do this or I’m going to hold up money for the project,’” Martire said. “So now we have become an arm of political officials.”
He also accused the governor of getting so involved in the Dulles Rail Project for his own professional gain.
“This MWAA project is a huge infrastructure project, and I believe at that time the governor wanted to be the vice president of the United States, and it was very ideological issue for him to handle.”
Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton shot back, saying in an email, “We have advocated greater transparency and better internal controls on the use of MWAA funds by board members. Martire chose to be part of the problem, not part of the solution.”
Martire won't quietly leave the board. He said he plans to talk about issues with the authority's staff and leadership and the possibility that the public may get the short end of the stick in the end.
“What good is your vote if elected officials, at the end of the day, are still going to tell you what to do, then why do you need an unelected board there?” he asked. “I mean, at that point, you’re just rubber-stamping things.”