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Posted at 12:12 PM ET, 01/ 3/2011

At-large appointment meeting moved out of Wilson Building

By Mike DeBonis

Bowing to pressure from city Republicans, the D.C. Democrats will move a high-stakes meeting to elect an interim D.C. Council member from the John A. Wilson Building to another venue.

Party leaders on Thursday are set to fill the vacancy created by at-large member Kwame R. Brown's ascendancy to the chairmanship. Rather than hold the election among the body's 80-odd members on city property, the meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at Democratic National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill, at 430 South Capitol Street SE.

The D.C. Democratic State Committee has held its regular monthly meetings in the Wilson Building for years. But after the group held a candidates debate in another government building, One Judiciary Square, the D.C. Republican Committee questioned whether it was a misuse of government resources. A Washington Post editorial echoed the concerns.

David Meadows, the DCDSC's executive director, said that the Dems don't think they have done anything wrong by holding events in public buildings, but made the change out of "respect to the incoming administration." Mayor Vincent Gray said in a TBD TV appearance last week that he would ask incoming attorney general Irvin Nathan to render an opinion on whether the use of government space was proper for such meetings and events.

"Every meeting that we've had at least in the last eight months we went through the proper channels," said Meadows. "We certainly do not feel that the Republicans' inquiry had any merit because we did not advocate for any particular candidate."

Paul Craney, Meadows's GOP counterpart, said the move was a "common-sense thing."

The D.C. Republicans got a another big win Sunday, when incoming chairman Brown announced that he would establish an ethics committee to handle complaints against its members -- a longtime demand of GOP leaders.

But Craney said he's wary that the council -- 10 Democrats and two independents -- will be policing itself.

"They have to some how figure out a way to make it bipartisan," Craney said, raising the possibility of a split membership akin to the Federal Election Commission's makeup of three Democrats and three Republicans.

But it will be difficult to convince council members to submit to oversight by a party that has proven unable to hold a council seat since Carol Schwartz was ousted in 2008.

By Mike DeBonis  | January 3, 2011; 12:12 PM ET
Categories:  Kwame Brown, The District  
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