A top aide to D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) who has been caught up in multiple ethics investigations over the past 18 months is stepping down, city officials announced Friday.
Courtney R. Snowden, the deputy mayor for greater economic opportunity, will have her last day on the job Sept. 21, the mayor’s office announced in a news release. Brenda Donald, the director of the District’s Child and Family Services Agency, will also assume the deputy mayor’s job on a temporary basis while Bowser seeks a replacement.
Snowden, a former public relations specialist who mounted an unsuccessful campaign for D.C. Council in 2014, was appointed by Bowser in April 2015 to the newly created cabinet position focused on boosting jobs and small businesses east of the Anacostia River.
But since last spring, she has been trailed by multiple scandals stemming from her conduct in office.
Snowden — along with City Administrator Rashad M. Young — was one of two top Bowser officials found by the D.C. inspector general to have circumvented the District’s notoriously competitive school lottery with help from former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson.
Although that investigation focused on Henderson’s decision to improperly place students in desired schools outside the lottery system, the involvement of two top mayoral officials was an embarrassment for Bowser and prompted a ban on special school placements for the children of government officials.
In November 2017, a separate inspector general’s investigation concluded that Snowden had improperly used her staff to babysit her son during the workday. The findings are under review by the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability.
The inspector general also investigated, but did not substantiate, allegations that Snowden maintained inappropriate contact with her former employer and private-sector clients after taking office.
Snowden did not respond to a phone message left with her assistant and an email seeking comment. Bowser spokeswoman LaToya Foster said Snowden had not been asked to step down and was leaving of her own accord.
“Her departure isn’t related to any ethics investigations,” Foster said.
In the news release, Bowser praised Snowden for awarding millions in grants and loans to small businesses and for her work on jobs programs such as the D.C. Infrastructure Academy. She made no reference to the ethics investigations.
“I don’t think I could have appointed a better person to build this post from the ground up and deliver for our residents,” Bowser said in her statement. “Courtney has been a trailblazer, forging pathways to the middle class for residents who needed someone to believe in them and give them a fair shot.”
The news release said Snowden was leaving for “a new career opportunity” outside city government but did not specify her new job. Before joining the mayor’s office, Snowden worked at the Raben Group, a Washington public affairs and lobbying firm.
D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), who heads the council’s Labor and Workforce Development Committee, said Snowden’s permanent replacement should be ready to focus on the racial disparities that lurk beneath the surface of the District’s much-heralded economic revival.
“If somebody is going to take on Courtney’s role, I hope it’s going to be someone who has real expertise in this area and experience in closing the income gap,” Silverman said.
Fenit Nirappil contributed to this report.