Mary Cheh leads bill capping appointees

D.C. councilwoman Mary Cheh will introduce a bill capping the number of political appointments Mayor Vincent Gray can make, following a report that chronicled the alumnus’s hiring scandals.

Cheh, a professor at GW Law School, headed up the council’s Aug. 23 report outlining evidence that Gray appointed adult children of his administration’s senior officials and paid top aides salaries that exceeded the maximum legal limits.

She said the bill will trim, but not fully slash, the number of appointees because they are “an accepted part of running a government.”

“These people were appointed not in a competitive service, but they were appointed at will,” Cheh said. “Many really did not have any qualifications to do what they were supposed to be doing and were paid salaries that were, I think, unreasonable.”

The bill is still in its preliminary stages, Cheh said, adding that lawmakers are surveying models from other cities to determine what a practical cap for the number of authorized political appointments should be. Gray’s administration has reached a total of 160 appointments.

“Mayor Gray is reviewing the implications of Councilmember Cheh’s bill,” Gray’s office said in a statement. “The Gray administration looks forward to working with the Council on legislation that addresses any concerns about ethics and political appointees.”

Gray’s office declined to comment further on the bill.

Though she does not expect the bill to pass before the end of the year at the earliest, Cheh believes her proposal will gain united support from her colleagues.

“I would anticipate strong support for the bill,” she said. “It is the system that created a potential for mischief, and I want to reform the system.”

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