Elected Attorney General Possible for DC

Council votes to have voters choose the AG

The D.C. Council members told current Attorney General Peter Nickles not to take it personally, but they want someone who's elected by the voters to be the city's attorney general.

Despite comments to the contrary, the council's irritation with the hard-charging Nickles did help speed the change in the law.

Several council members -- including judiciary Chairman Phil Mendelson -- have complained that Nickles is too close to Mayor Adrian Fenty, who appointed him. Under the city's charter, the attorney general is supposed to be independent of the mayor.

At a recent community event, Nickles took on a political tone when he declared, "When the community speaks, the Fenty Administration listens."

Under the council bill, an attorney general would be elected for a four-year term and be independent of the mayor and the council.  Only Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells pointed out during debate that an independent attorney general would be a "third power center" in city politics. Wells noted that an aggressive attorney general, elected by the people, could investigate or go after the mayor and the council members. But Wells didn't seemed worried.

Tuesday's vote was unanimous.

The council will have to pass the measure again in a couple of weeks, then it goes to Mayor Fenty for his signature. Because it's a change in the city's 1973 Home Rule charter, Congress also will have to vote on the issue. 


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 The attorney general is elected in 43 of the 50 states. 

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