- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2003

Maddox’s actions, qualifications target of council criticism

D.C. Inspector General Charles C. Maddox resigned yesterday, resolving a contentious dispute between Mayor Anthony A. Williams and D.C. Council members, who earlier this year filed a lawsuit against the mayor seeking Mr. Maddox’s dismissal.

Mr. Maddox, who has been accused by council members of whitewashing investigations of the Williams administration, has been criticized for his handling of the Washington Teachers Union scandal and his office’s investigation into the mayor’s campaign fund raising.

His resignation is effective Dec. 31.

During his embattled four-year tenure, Mr. Maddox has been the subject of investigations into the legitimacy of his credentials and the status of his D.C. residency. In March, he was the target of legislation that would have stripped him of his post by changing the qualifications for his job.

In February 2002, council members unanimously passed a vote of no-confidence in Mr. Maddox, partly because of questions about where he really lived. Senior city officials are required to live in the District. Mr. Maddox said he divided his time between an apartment in the District and a home in Upper Marlboro.

In a resignation letter dated yesterday, Mr. Maddox said he was leaving “on my own terms — without a severance package, on my timeline, and with all the allegations by the city council remaining unfounded.”

The inspector general said he has signed on to serve as a partner in the Virginia law firm of De Wilde and Tabot. He said he told Mr. Williams of his decision to step down Thursday night at a farewell party for City Administrator John Koskinen.

“His response, after physically looking shocked was, ‘Well, I’m not putting any political pressure on you. Why now?’” Mr. Maddox told The Washington Times in a telephone interview yesterday.

Mr. Maddox said now was the “right time,” and he had been weighing a decision to leave for as long as two years.

In a statement issued late yesterday, Mr. Williams described the resignation as “unexpected” and said he was pleased Mr. Maddox was leaving “under his own terms.”

“Inspector General Maddox has shown strength and courage under fire,” Mr. Williams stated. “He has remained true to his beliefs and will leave this position with the knowledge that he has improved not only the operation of his own office, but the operation of the entire District government.”

Mr. Maddox, 60, was hired in 1999 to a six-year term to oversee an office of 133 and a budget of $12 million. He served as the inspector general’s general counsel for a year before his appointment and receives an annual salary of $130,000 to investigate mismanagement, waste and corruption in the D.C. government.

Yesterday, Mr. Maddox said the first two years of his tenure, under supervision of the D.C. financial control board, ran smoothly. But since the board was dissolved in 2001, he said he has received a stream of often-withering criticism from the D.C. Council.

Mr. Maddox said the attacks were “political” and theorized that his office’s reports were “embarrassing” to council committee chairmen and members whose own actions came under scrutiny.

When the council in March unanimously passed emergency legislation changing the qualifications for the inspector general’s job to qualifications that Mr. Maddox does not meet, he said he felt compelled to ride out the challenge to his authority.

Under the legislation, the inspector general is required to have served seven years on the D.C. Bar and have graduated from an accredited law school. Mr. Maddox joined the D.C. Bar in November 2002, and Northern Virginia Law School was not accredited when he graduated in 1994.

“It was very important, because it was a matter of principle,” he said. “The inspector general should be aggressively pursuing independence and not yielding to political pressure from anyone.”

Mr. Williams vetoed the legislation April 2, but the council overrode his veto by a 12-1 vote. Harold Brazil, at-large Democrat, cast the dissenting vote.

On June 2, council members sued Mr. Williams for refusing to fire Mr. Maddox by June 1, the date the legislation took effect.

A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled Aug. 1 that the council has the right to set qualifications for the job, but struck down the provision applying to Mr. Maddox.

Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp said yesterday it would have been “better for the city” if Mr. Maddox had resigned earlier, if that was his intention. Mrs. Cropp, a Democrat, said the status of the council’s appeal of the August ruling remains unclear now that Mr. Maddox resigned. But she denied the council’s oversight of the inspector general’s office was politically motivated.

“No branch of government should be all powerful,” she said, “so it was the council’s responsibility to make sure we did not let any power, of any agency, go unchecked.”

Vincent B. Orange, Ward 5 Democrat and chairman of the council’s Government Operations Committee that oversees the inspector general’s office, has been one of Mr. Maddox’s most vocal critics. He called Mr. Maddox’s resignation “a good decision for him and a good decision for the District of Columbia.”

“Mr. Maddox has always, in my view, failed to ascertain the gravity of the situation,” Mr. Orange said. “The inspector general, in my opinion, should always be above reproach. If you’re supposed to be a resident, there should be no questions about it — no ifs, ands or buts. If you’re supposed to be a member of the bar, there should be no questions about it.”

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