- Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final
- Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again
- FAA investigating fireworks drone flights
- Pentagon: We’ll give Obama a drone strike with al-Baghdadi’s name on it
- Marine in Mexican custody to get day in court after 101 days
- Senate OKs San Antonio mayor as housing secretary
- NFL star likely fooled by Marine impostor who accepted first-class plane ticket
- Sen. Ted Cruz tweets Obama directions from fundraisers to border towns
- Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive
- Ten-year sentence for New Orleans’ Nagin on graft charges
Top officials on airports board face Hill scrutiny
Question of the Day
Two top officials who have taken the lead in cleaning up ethical lapses and mismanagement at the board overseeing the Washington region’s two major airports came under fire for their own actions Friday at a House oversight hearing.
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority chairman Michael Curto and CEO Jack Potter both “engaged in, shall I say, missteps” during their time at the authority, according to testimony from the Department of Transportation’s inspector general, Calvin Scovel III, to the House Transportation Committee.
Both faced sharp questioning from lawmakers, including several who questioned whether they should continue to hold their positions.
The hearing came after a scathing federal audit released earlier this month that cited lax contracting procedures, nepotism, and board members and senior employees who accepted lavish gifts like Super Bowl tickets from contractors who received work from the authority.
But at Friday’s hearing, they were questioned about their own actions.
Mr. Curto was asked about why he recommended his wife’s law firm to receive a $100,000 sole-source contract and failed to tell others that his wife was the firm’s director of administration until after the contract was awarded.
Mr. Curto said the recommendation was a “misstep” that resulted in an appearance of a conflict, but said neither he nor his wife received any personal benefit from it and that the board needed to hire a law firm quickly.
Rep. Donna Edwards, Maryland Democrat, was unimpressed. “There is a lawyer on every corner,” she said, skeptical that Mr. Curto’s wife’s firm possessed some special ability that merited a sole-source contract.
Mr. Potter was questioned about his decision to hire a former board member, Mame Reiley, for an $180,000 job created specifically for her. Potter has said hiring Ms. Reiley was a mistake and he terminated her contract, though he said she did good work for the authority.
The board’s vice chairman, former Virginia Republican congressman Thomas M. Davis III, defended Mr. Potter as someone who is committed to fixing the airports authority’s problems. He and others noted that nearly all the board members who were in office when the abuses occurred will have been replaced by the end of this year.
“Just give us some time,” Mr. Davis said. “We are moving in the right direction.”
Friday’s hearing also provided another opportunity for Virginia lawmakers to press the case that the state should control a majority of the appointments to the board. Currently Virginia’s governor gets to appoint seven of the 17 members, with the rest appointed by Maryland, the District and the federal government.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, Virginia Democrat, testified that it only makes sense for Virginia to have a greater say because both Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport are in Virginia. The rationale is even stronger now because the airports authority is also responsible for overseeing the biggest ongoing infrastructure project in the state, the $5.6 billion extension of the region’s Metrorail system to Dulles.
The authority also sets the toll rates on a major highway in Virginia, the Dulles Toll Road, and has been forced to consistently raise the rates on that road as a means of generating revenue to pay for Metrorail extension.
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Banning speech with a constitutional amendment is playing with fire
- GOP: Lerner warned IRS employees to hide information from Congress
- ISTOOK: Flying illegals home would be 99.5 percent cheaper than Obamas plan
- White House plans for bowling alley upgrades abruptly canceled
- Obama requests $3.7 billion to fight surge of illegals
- Power grab: EPA wants to garnish wages of polluters
- Islamic militants aim to take Baghdad airport
- On border quagmire, Obama passes the buck to Congress
- Colorado man offers Obama a toke of marijuana a Rocky Mountain 'high'
- Illegal immigrants showing up at border with 'Yes we can' Obama shoes: report
- D'Souza on Costco debacle: 'It was really bizarre'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq
World Cup's sexiest WAGs
U.S.-Ghana World Cup opener