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Council Panel Votes Against Nickles as Attorney General Nominee

UPDATE: 4:10

D.C. Councilmembers Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), each voted in support of Nickles in committee this morning.

Despite the report strongly criticizing the acting attorney general on issues ranging from his lack of a D.C. residence to his close relationship with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Evans told The Wire that the residency question is a non-issue.

"He said that when he is confirmed he will move into the city and the law provides for the attorney general to represent the mayor and the city. He has not violated any law.

"Council member Cheh mistated that fact during the committee hearing and then corrected herself. Peter Nickles is aggressive and outspoken, and more than anything, this is why some of my colleagues have not supported him."

Bowser said she voted against the report and questions the tactics of Phil Mendleson, the judiciary committee chairman.

"Just on Friday there was a resolution to approve Nickles, and by this morning it was a resolution to disapprove him."

"Peter Nickles has been a tough advocate for the city and District residents, and I don't think that anybody can deny that," she said. "In terms of pubic safety issues and housing, he has insisted on making sure that we are putting systems in place to hold slumlords accountable. It is my hope that my colleagues will look at Mr. Nickles's long history as an advocate, and I think that District residents are better off with his service."

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A D.C. Council committee voted 3 to 2 today to reject the nomination of Peter J. Nickles as the attorney general for the District of Columbia.

The fate of the controversial acting attorney general is now in the hands of the full D.C. Council, which meets tomorrow.

Members of the council's judiciary committee initially gathered to consider a motion to approve Nickles as the city's top law enforcer, but in a dramatic move D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, who chairs the panel, announced that he was offering a motion of disapproval and referred his colleagues to a scathing report about Nickles.

"The chief concern is that Mr. Nickles does not show the independent judgment that is necessary," Mendelson said in an interview with The Wire. "He would be the attorney general for the city, but he is acting as if he is the legal counsel for the mayor. He is making personnel decisions, which are inappropriate when he is the attorney who will have to defend the city in court."

D.C. Council members Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) voted with Mendelson, while Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) voted to support him.

"I just don't think that he has shown enough respect for the rule of law," Cheh said. "He has taken steps to fire people and basically told people to sue us if you don't like it."

Hamil R. Harris

By Marcia Davis  |  November 17, 2008; 1:42 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council  
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Next: Stage Is Set for a Battle Over Nickles Today

Comments

Hats off to the Committee! This unaccountable loose cannon has done enough damage. I hope the full Council follows suit.

Posted by: Sweetback | November 17, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Jack Evans voted for Nickels. Now that's suprise. DC needs to vote Evans of the board. Take your community back.

Posted by: askgees | November 17, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to the councilmembers who didn't allow Nickles to just shoo-in, as he and Fenty likely assumed that he would.

I have no argument with Councilmember Cheh's statement: "I just don't think that he has shown enough respect for the rule of law."

Posted by: logosdesigns | November 17, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

This is a mistake by the Council committee and Phil Mendelson and Mary Cheh.

It is time that both Mary and Phil get over their personal dislikes of how a person may do his job and move to looking at a person's qualifications. How the job is done is really up to the electorate to decide and if enough of Fenty's appointments don't do what the public likes they can not re-elect him. Council oversight isn't about turning down qualified people.


I may or may not like Peter Nickles but he is a supremely qualified attorney with a wealth of experience.

I truly believe that when the Council turns down a Mayoral appointment it should be based on their qualifications. This vote isn't based on that.

Posted by: peterdc | November 17, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I praise Mendelson, Cheh and Alexander for having the courage to speak up on behalf of the people of the District in support of the amendment to disapprove Peter Nickles as the Attorney General of the District of Columbia.

A word to Ward 4, Murial Bowser does not represent you, she represents Fenty and whatever nonsense he wishes to shove down the throat of the District. I urge you to view todays committee hearing and see how completely in the pocket she is to Adrian Fenty.

Cheh succintly and very democratically spelled out exactly why Peter Nickles shouldn't be the District's attorney general. She acknowledged that under normal circumstances the Mayor should be given defference for who he selects to work with, however, considering Peter Nickles would represent the District, there is an elevated level of urgency, and that she couldn't with good conscious support an Attorney General nominee who disrespects the rule of law. As they say in the United Kingdom "here, here".


Lets hope the council of the whole have at least four more courageous souls, namely (Gray, Barry, Thomas, Brown)who will join on this vote on the side of reason. Vote on the side of the people of the District.

Peter Nickles is a legal obstructionist. That may be good for private practice, but dangerous to the public good.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | November 17, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

About time! The City needs someone who more than a mere enforcer. Nickles has had plenty of time to audition for this job. No one is calling him a consensus builder, or a man of high integrity. This is a good example that qualifications are important, but they should never be the only factor considered for high level executive jobs. I hope this sticks with the full council.

Posted by: halex84 | November 17, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I read the report and it is very telling of an Attorney General whose loyalties lie with the Mayor, not the City. Kudos to Mary Cheh and Yvette Alexander and Phil Mendelsen for denying the Mayor what amounted to a rubber stamp for his agenda. The Mayor and Peter Nickles are life long friends and I would find that relationship alone to be a conflict of interest in a position that should be independent. This is a democracy not a dictatorship.

Posted by: RL16 | November 17, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

This is a mistake by the Council committee and Phil Mendelson and Mary Cheh.

It is time that both Mary and Phil get over their personal dislikes of how a person may do his job and move to looking at a person's qualifications. How the job is done is really up to the electorate to decide and if enough of Fenty's appointments don't do what the public likes they can not re-elect him. Council oversight isn't about turning down qualified people.


I may or may not like Peter Nickles but he is a supremely qualified attorney with a wealth of experience.

I truly believe that when the Council turns down a Mayoral appointment it should be based on their qualifications. This vote isn't based on that.

Posted by: peterdc | November 17, 2008 4:05 PM


Look at the screen name at the bottom of the post. Wonder if this old Peter him self. LOL Nickles is an idiot.

Posted by: askgees | November 17, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

rofl@ askgees

Posted by: logosdesigns | November 17, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

This is typical of Mendelson, this man sat in a neighborhood meeting and told people he "didn't know" about some of the very laws that need to be changed that will allow people who are arrested for gun crimes to go free. He has been chairman of the safttey commission for over 5 yrs has a big staff and he has the nerve to say he "didn't know" about a huge flaw in the laws of DC concerning gun crimes. Mendelson didn't want Nickels in because he knows he is going to do the job he should have been doing a long time ago. Throw Mendelson out in two yrs when he is up for re-election

Posted by: ccppcsharp | November 17, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Residency is an issue!!!!! I don't want anyone leading a management team for MY city who does not reside in the city. That speaks volumes for the lack of confidence hot-shot, loose cannon Nickels has for My City.

Posted by: ColoredSpirit | November 17, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Nickles shouldn't be approved due to his lack of judgement on restricting the 2nd Amendment rights of DC residents.

Posted by: ahashburn | November 17, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

This is a good vote and I thank the councilmembers for it. I think Fenty is a fantastic mayor, and I think Muriel Bowser's doing a pretty good and independent job too, but Nickles has been a black mark on the administration since before he ascended to the post. He heavy-handedly forced the former AG from the post through his meddling, and he never stopped being the mayor's (rather than the people's) lawyer.

I hope the council holds the line on this

Posted by: Sonyask | November 17, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Peter Nickles is not qualified to be DC AG, even if he lived here and paid taxes here. After suing Bank of America over the OTR scandal only because he was intimidated into doing so, he has missed two key claims that will result in DC losing or recovering less. He is cocky, not competent.

Posted by: grclarkdc1 | November 17, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

This has been coming for a while now. Nickles and his obstructive tactics has created so much derision that it's a wonder how any business at all gets done in DC. Let's not even discuss that foolishness about suing BoA for negligence.

Tick tock Peter, your time is up.


Take Natwar Ghandi with you when you leave.

Posted by: overhereontheleft | November 17, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Good for the 3 members who voted against Nickles. It is irrelevant if the law does not forbid his representing the mayor and the city too. What matters is whether it is good for this type of dual relationship. As any "good" lawyer will tell you, one should not wear two hats in representing clients. Nickles has not shown independence of his job and frankly he has shown very little in terms of good character.

Posted by: familynet | November 17, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I applaud the vote and hope it is sustained.

The district's corrupton, self dealing and outright concealment of gov. actions is on the brink of being discovered.

nickles needs to go or the citizens will be the losers

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | November 17, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

It is amazing to me how many of these posters are hostile towards Mr. Nickles. Yes, he might be gruff. He certainly is not a politician. What he is is one of the finest attorneys this city has ever seen. For most of his career he fought the city so that its most underepresented citizens got the services they were entitled to. Now he is on the inside and making the changes he always fought for as an outsider. Believe me. The District will be much better off because of these efforts. His enemies are those that don't want things to change. But this is the season for change, at long last.

Posted by: ethicslaw | November 17, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Sort of typical for the city council, they prefer someone (like themselves}to spin their their wheels, and do nothing. Lets all pose, and give a press conference about it now.

Posted by: secochran | November 17, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Just because I don't support Peter Nickles does not mean that I don't support change. I, unlike others, prefer quality change as opposed to change, for the sake of change.

Much like, I prefer a mayor that know how to run a Summer Jobs Program witout overspending it by 30 million dollars

But, of course, the Nickles supporters, will say, so what, if it is different it must be better. Well I say, hogwash

If you view the hearing, Cheh, a constitutional law professor, very clearly spelled out legitimate reservations that go beyond Mr Nickles "gruff" manner. It spelled out his lack of respect for the rule of law. His disrespect for supoena's. His disregard of a legislative body elected by the people, not appointed by the mayor.

Peter Nickles is not capable of representing the best interest of the people because his loyalties are in representing the political interests of the Mayor. That creates an unacceptable conflict of interests.

The previous Attonrey General had to pursue Anthony Williams senior managers, now, could any of you, with straight face presume that Nickles, who represented Fenty before the Bar when he was nail close to disbarment, would take that course even if it were in the best interest of the city?

I think not.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | November 17, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

It's about time the DC Council did its job!

Posted by: WildBill1 | November 17, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

As a DC Resident I believe Nickles should be a NO VOTE across the board! Guess Bowser and Evans are still Fenty's "YES PEOPLE". Just glad we have a large amount of Councilmembers who can vote on the best interest of the District of Columbia Residents! And if Nickles can't take this Citizens comments "SUE YOURSELF FOOL!"

Posted by: CashNDC | November 17, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Peter Nickles suied the city for decades and cost the city million upon millions of dollars, And most of the dc agencies that he suied are still under court order. And now he wants to represent the District of Columbia..... What a bad dream should he get approved.

Posted by: winston61 | November 17, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Folks crying about Peter and Change? Listen up the AG's position reflexs the best interest of the District. Anyone who tells someone to "SUE them" and holding this position is telling them to file suit against each and every DC Resident! Ethicslaw you have me wondering is there a job in this for you? Nickles by his own actions has shown DC Residents he is Fenty's Made Man, and his WILL is Fenty's WILL ONLY! How could we ever form our lips to plead for Statehood and Representation when we put someone in Office that Represents ONE man........Mayor Fenty! Sounds like what Congress would say: "The District still can not Govern themselves EFFECTIVELY!"

Posted by: CashNDC | November 17, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Thank God and it's about time! One man who thinks he's above the law down and two to go. Rhee and Fenty Then the rest will hat up and disappear!!!! Oh! send Muriel Bowser with them too. Wrong can smack her in the face and she just refuses to feel it. Way to go city council. Maybe my faith in city government will be restored but you're still on the proving side.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 17, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

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