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Posted at 01:42 PM ET, 11/17/2008

Council Panel Votes Against Nickles as Attorney General Nominee

UPDATE: 4:10

D.C. Councilmembers Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), each voted in support of Nickles in committee this morning.

Despite the report strongly criticizing the acting attorney general on issues ranging from his lack of a D.C. residence to his close relationship with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Evans told The Wire that the residency question is a non-issue.

"He said that when he is confirmed he will move into the city and the law provides for the attorney general to represent the mayor and the city. He has not violated any law.

"Council member Cheh mistated that fact during the committee hearing and then corrected herself. Peter Nickles is aggressive and outspoken, and more than anything, this is why some of my colleagues have not supported him."

Bowser said she voted against the report and questions the tactics of Phil Mendleson, the judiciary committee chairman.

"Just on Friday there was a resolution to approve Nickles, and by this morning it was a resolution to disapprove him."

"Peter Nickles has been a tough advocate for the city and District residents, and I don't think that anybody can deny that," she said. "In terms of pubic safety issues and housing, he has insisted on making sure that we are putting systems in place to hold slumlords accountable. It is my hope that my colleagues will look at Mr. Nickles's long history as an advocate, and I think that District residents are better off with his service."

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A D.C. Council committee voted 3 to 2 today to reject the nomination of Peter J. Nickles as the attorney general for the District of Columbia.

The fate of the controversial acting attorney general is now in the hands of the full D.C. Council, which meets tomorrow.

Members of the council's judiciary committee initially gathered to consider a motion to approve Nickles as the city's top law enforcer, but in a dramatic move D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, who chairs the panel, announced that he was offering a motion of disapproval and referred his colleagues to a scathing report about Nickles.

"The chief concern is that Mr. Nickles does not show the independent judgment that is necessary," Mendelson said in an interview with The Wire. "He would be the attorney general for the city, but he is acting as if he is the legal counsel for the mayor. He is making personnel decisions, which are inappropriate when he is the attorney who will have to defend the city in court."

D.C. Council members Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) voted with Mendelson, while Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) voted to support him.

"I just don't think that he has shown enough respect for the rule of law," Cheh said. "He has taken steps to fire people and basically told people to sue us if you don't like it."

Hamil R. Harris

By Marcia Davis  |  01:42 PM ET, 11/17/2008

Categories:  D.C. Council

 
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