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UPDATED: Council rejects GOP nominee to elections board

The D.C. Council voted 7 to 4 to reject Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's nominee to the Board of Elections and Ethics on Tuesday, meaning there remains one vacancy on the panel.

Last November, Fenty nominated Republican Mital Gandhi to fill the seat on the board reserved for a member of a minority party. In June, the council refused to act on Gandhi's nomination after some members raised questions about his experience.

When a second potential vacancy arose this month after the news that Chairman Erroll Arthur was resigning this week, Fenty nominated Togo D. West Jr. to replace Arthur. The council confirmed West last week, but Gandhi's nomination has remained in limbo.

In recent days, the D.C. Republican Committee and three GOP candidates running for council this year have been stepping up the pressure on the council to confirm Gandhi. Failing to do so, they argued, was disenfranchising the city's 29,000 registered Republicans

But council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), chairwoman of the committee that has oversight over the elections process, urged her colleagues Tuesday to formally reject Gandhi because of concerns about his experience.

Along with Cheh, council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5), Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), Michael Brown (I-At Large) and Kwame Brown (D-At Large) all voted not to confirm Gandhi.

Council members David A. Catania (I-At Large), Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 1) supported the nomination.

Council members Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) were absent.

After the vote, Gandhi wrote an e-mail to the council expressing his disappointment, and his belief that his rejection was politically motivated.

"I am disappointed in the outcome of your vote today on my nomination to the DC Board of Elections and Ethics," Gandhi wrote. "I believe some Councilmembers have put their own interests ahead of the integrity of the electoral process, and by doing so, have shown not only me, but the voters of the District of Columbia, that playing politics is more important than the integrity of the elections.

"This was clearly a 'Gray for Mayor' vote on the Council rather than a 'qualifications of the nominee' vote," he wrote. "Your vote has shown a sign of political favoritism rather than a vote for fair and free elections, and with a primary election just six weeks away, you have done a disservice to the voters of the District of Columbia."

Cheh said after the vote that she hopes Fenty nominates another candidate in time for the council to consider them before the Sept. 14 primary.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

By Tim Craig  |  August 3, 2010; 1:37 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election , D.C. Council , Jim Graham , Kwame Brown , Marion Barry , Mayor Fenty , Tim Craig , Vincent C. Gray , vincent gray  
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Why doesn't Fenty nominate Carol Schwartz to the Board? She'd likely win easy approval.

Posted by: lipschitzantwon | August 3, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

half the council endorsed Carol Schwartz in 2008, while the other half backed her opponents, one of whom is now on the council. if you wouldn't worry about the potential appearance of score-settling, I can bet that councilmembers would.

Posted by: hungrypug | August 3, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see the Board wants to keep DC functioning as a liberal dictatorship....

Posted by: WildBill1 | August 3, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Scwartz was rudely dumped by DC Repubs after backing sick leave, no? I don't think you'll see those parties talking anytime soon.

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | August 3, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

While on some level this may have been about party politics, at the end of the day Mital Gandhi was a horrible candidate for the BOEE. Perhaps has Mr. Gandhi had a better attendance record at ABC hearings (of which he is also a member) and had not submitted questionable petitions for his own ANC candidacy, maybe then the Council would have felt differently. There are plenty of people in this town from both parties (and the Greens too) who have actual election administration experience.

Posted by: AdamsMorganChick | August 3, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

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