Mital Gandhi proves he was not suited for the D.C. elections board
The Board of Elections and Ethics, given its crucial role in conducting fair elections, demands a man or woman who stands above reproach and above the political fray. That's why Togo West was an inspired pick for Mayor Adrian Fenty -- though he's been a contributor to Fenty's campaigns in the past, he had not been a particularly active supporter, and his well-earned national reputation serves as a bulwark against any undue influence.
Mital Gandhi, it is clear, is no Togo West. But then again, his is an awfully high if not impossible standard to meet.
Still, there were legitimate concerns about appointing Gandhi to a board of BOEE's stature. The Republican advisory neighborhood commissioner, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board member and businessman has a record of civic service, which is admirable. But as elections watchdog Dorothy Brizill has thoroughly documented, he also has a history of partisan political activity. He personally lobbied, in collusion with the D.C. Republican Committee, to force a vote on his nomination.
Then today, he e-mailed this statement to council members and the media after the vote:
I am disappointed in the outcome of your vote today on my nomination to the DC Board of Elections and Ethics. 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. 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.
A draft statement included in the e-mail was even harsher, particularly toward Ward 3 council member Mary Cheh: "You have waffled on your own votes -- First voting for me in the Committee and then voting against me at the full Council telling lies on the record, including the issuance of a subpoena from the BOEE. You should vote in representation of Ward 3 voters and citizens rather then your angst against me." The draft added that the other members opposing him "should be ashamed."
Not since Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert slammed LeBron James for leaving town has a potentially questionable decision been so instantly validated.
August 3, 2010; 2:10 PM ET
Categories: The District
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