They are among scores of MWAA employees and board members whose spouses, children, in-laws and other relatives have landed jobs at the agency, according to authority records.
MWAA officials have come under intense scrutiny recently over lapses in ethics, including taking Super Bowl tickets and other gifts from contractors, patronage and other issues. But records obtained by The Washington Post show a far greater pattern of nepotism, involving not only board members, but high-ranking MWAA officials and others in several departments of the agency.
Some members of the same family work in the same office. Others have relatives who were hired temporarily, but returned year after year without reapplying, or they stayed on permanently. Several collected thousands of dollars in overtime and bonuses. In a few instances, high-ranking employees supervised their relatives or oversaw the office in which their family members worked, a violation of the authority’s ethics code.
Authority officials and employees readily acknowledge that controls over hiring were lax and rarely enforced.
“There were no clear-cut guidelines,” said MWAA board member H.R. Crawford, who will leave the board next month when his term expires.
Crawford, who has had at least three relatives, including a daughter-in-law, work at the agency, said family members are employed frequently, particularly among board members.
“If you ask a third of those folks, their relatives work there,” he said. “I never thought that we were doing anything wrong.”
Jack Potter, president and chief executive of the agency that oversees the region’s two major airports, the Dulles Toll Road and construction of Metrorail to Dulles, told a congressional committee last month that he did not know how many relatives of board members and staffers work at the authority.
An audit released last month by the U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general found that the authority lacked "sufficient controls to detect and prevent nepotism,” and it called for the agency to revamp its policy. MWAA’s ethics code prohibits employees from hiring, supervising or working with relatives. They also cannot supervise family members — directly or indirectly — or “have influence over their work.”
“As a result of these weaknesses and poor oversight, there have been multiple violations of the code’s anti-nepotism . . . provisions and a lack of assurance that employees are fully aware of the ethics requirements,” the audit found.
The audit, which did not name specific employees, prompted authority officials to approve a new code of ethics. The new rules for board members took effect on Dec. 1; the revamped employee code is effective Jan. 1.
Both codes now will prohibit board members and employees from participating in the hiring, promotion or appointment of relatives.