“Mayor Vincent C. Gray Nominates Experienced Legal Experts to District’s Board of Ethics and Government Accountability”

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

From a press release:

Mayor Vincent C. Gray today announced that he has nominated three experts in ethics and law to the District’s newly created Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (Ethics Board). Former D.C. Attorney General Robert Spagnoletti will chair the panel, and former Commodity Futures Trading Commission Deputy General Counsel Laura Richards and communications and regulatory consultant Deborah Lathen will serve as the board’s other two members.

The body is responsible for investigating alleged violations of ethics laws by District government employees and public officials. In addition, the board will issue new rules and regulations regarding the ethical conduct of employees and public officials, and conduct mandatory training on the D.C. government’s Code of Conduct.

“These nominees have extensive experience in law, public service and ethics as well as sterling professional and personal reputations in our city,” Mayor Gray said. “I have faith that they will serve the people of the District well in safeguarding the trust that our residents place in their elected representatives.”

The legislation that created the Ethics Board dictates that it will consist of three members, no more than two of whom may come from the same political party. Members will be appointed by the Mayor to serve for six-year terms (except for the initial appointees, who will serve staggered terms). Appointments to the panel must be confirmed by the D.C. Council.

“Mrs. Laura Richards is an excellent choice for the DC Board of Ethics and Government Accountability,” said Bob Kabel, Chairman of the D.C. Republican Committee. “The Board is best served with a diversity of opinions and Mrs. Richards would bring just that. Her judgment and perspective on the Board should be welcomed by the D.C. Council and the District. The Mayor made a strong choice by nominating Mrs. Richards and we are thankful that he was inclusive of the District’s Republican Party when making his selection.”

Ethics Board members are prohibited from holding office in District political organizations; endorsing or opposing District candidates for public office; or soliciting funds for, or contributing to, District political organizations or candidates. Board members cannot be lobbyists or convicted felons.

Other duties include conducting mandatory training on the Code of Conduct; operating a confidential, anonymous telephone hotline to receive information about possible violations of the Code of Conduct; and appointing the director of the District’s Open Government Office and the director of the Ethics Board’s office.

More on the nominees after the jump.

Robert Spagnoletti is a partner at the law firm of Schertler & Onorato LLP, where his practice focuses on criminal, civil and administrative litigation. Mr. Spagnoletti represents companies and individuals in connection with local, federal and internal investigations. A former D.C. Attorney General and former President of the D.C. Bar, Mr. Spagnoletti served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1990 to 2003. He is a graduate of Lafayette College and Georgetown University Law Center, and lives in Ward 4.

Laura Richards recently retired after a 24-year career as an attorney with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, including serving as Deputy General Counsel, Opinions and Review. Prior to joining the commission, she worked as a journalist and served in private practice as an attorney with the firms Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Arnold & Porter. She concentrated on legal matters associated with corporate transactions and regulatory banking matters. Ms. Richards is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and Howard University Law School. She is a Republican and a Ward 7 resident.

Deborah Lathen has more than 20 years of experience at national law firms and Fortune 500 companies in the areas of corporate governance, civil litigation, business transactions and mergers, environmental law, privacy issues, internet and media issues, public safety, property, labor law and consumer affairs. Since 2001, she has owned Lathen Consulting LLC, where she has advised organizations such as Verizon Communications and the city of Chicago. Previously, she served as Bureau Chief for the Federal Communications Commission’s Cable Services Bureau and as a consumer-affairs director and counsel for Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A. She also served from 2007 to 2010 as a member of the board of directors for British Telecom. Ms. Lathen is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School, and she lives in Ward 4.

15 Comment

  • Robert Spagnoletti is a great choice. I saw him do a presentation once and he was wonderful. I don’t like Gray, but I think he picked someone honest and fair here.

  • Fully loaded (just like those taxpayer-leased SUVs)!

  • “experienced legal experts” = “former personal attorney to Gray”

  • It will be good to finally see justice served to all the crooked council members and Mayor Gray himself.

  • Their first course of action should be telling Gray that he should resign for his federal election law violations. He can either choose that or resign in disgrace as the Feds prepare to ship him off to prison. Two of the top figures in his election just reached plea deals with prosecutors – does he really think that plea deal does not include testifying against him?

  • I came ready to bash this, but I think these choices (outside of the former AG) are good ones.

    I do find it inherently flawed that a man under investigation (the mayor) who is a product/former member of the corrupt council is the one to appoint the ethics board, but hey – welcome to DC!

    • williams worked for the barry admin and he was a great and ethical mayor.

      • Umm, well except he was forced onto Barry by the Control Board who loved him, as a then current Clinton Appointee as CFO for the Dept of Ag.

        Barry “accepted” the mandate from the Control Board…well because he really had no choice

        • Well that appointment was sort of a joke anyway. The guy doesn’t even know how to water a houseplant.

      • Williams was appointed by Barry but I’m pretty sure that it was during the Financial Control Board period, so Williams was never really considered part of the mayor’s administration. If I recall correctly, only the Control Board could fire Williams so there wasn’t exactly a lot of cooperation between the CFO and the Mayor’s office back then.

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