D.C. voters have to finish ethics reform in November


Had Thomas not chosen to resign, he could have stayed in office till he reported to prison. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Those matters — providing for the expulsion of council members and barring council members and the mayor from returning to office after being convicted of a felony — involve amending the District’s charter, a process that can only be done by act of Congress or through a ballot measure. For a variety of reasons, city leaders opted for the latter, and on Thursday the Board of Elections and Ethics finalized the language that will appear on citywide ballots Nov. 6.

The official summaries:

• “This Charter Amendment, if passed, would permit the Council to adopt a resolution to expel a Councilmember upon a 5/6 vote of its members upon demonstrating that Councilmember’s gross failure to meet the highest standards of conduct and upon establishing procedures for the expulsion of a Councilmember.”

• “This Charter Amendment, if passed, would make anyone who is convicted of a felony while holding the office of Councilmember ineligible to remain in the office and ineligible to ever hold the office again.”

• “This Charter Amendment, if passed, would make anyone who is convicted of a felony while holding the office of Mayor ineligible to remain in office and ineligible to ever hold the office again.”

Close readers of the legislation (Title III) will note that the amendment would not prevent a council member convicted of a felony while in office from subsequently running for mayor, or vice versa. But the language does provide that officeholders convicted of serious crimes while in office will be immediately expelled upon judgment; currently, they would not lose their seats until jailed.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.
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