A top aide to Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) used city employees to provide care for her child during the work day, D.C.’s inspector general has found.
Courtney Snowden, Bowser’s deputy mayor for greater economic opportunity, asked her staff to take her young child to a relative’s home and to pick up the child from school in August 2015, according to a report released Monday by Inspector General Daniel W. Lucas. Snowden also left her child, then 8 years old, under the supervision of her employees while she attended a meeting outside her office, the report states.
Investigators did not substantiate separate allegations that Snowden had inappropriate contact with her former private-sector company and clients after she assumed public office. They also did not examine an allegation that Snowden retaliated against her staff after they “raised ethical concerns” about her conduct. Lucas said that allegation was not in his office’s purview.
Anu Rangappa, a spokeswoman for Bowser, said the mayor remained confident in Snowden’s ability to do her job, which primarily involves promoting small businesses and workforce development in the poor neighborhoods of Southeast Washington.
“Deputy Mayor Snowden is working on behalf of District residents to address inequities holding back our most vulnerable citizens from achieving their full potential,” Rangappa wrote in an email. “Any issues raised have been addressed, and the mayor has full confidence in Deputy Mayor Snowden’s ability to continue to deliver for District residents.”
Snowden did not respond to requests for comment. After learning the results of the investigation in September, Bowser told the inspector general’s office that Snowden acknowledged her “conduct was not appropriate and expressed remorse,” according to the inspector general’s report. The mayor also stated that “appropriate management action has been taken and concluded” in response to the use of city staff for babysitting. Asked for a description of that action, her spokeswoman did not respond.
Lucas’s investigation, which The Washington Post previously reported was underway, marks the second time Snowden has come under scrutiny by the inspector general’s office.
Earlier this year, she was among a number of government officials found to have received preferential treatment from former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and to have circumvented the District’s notoriously competitive lottery system for school enrollment. The chancellor placed Snowden’s son at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, a public school with a waiting list of more than 1,000 students.
A second Bowser cabinet official, City Administrator Rashad M. Young, was also among those who benefited from preferential treatment. That investigation found that Henderson misused her authority as chancellor but did not assess the conduct of the government officials whose children received special placements.
Lucas’s new report on Snowden states that the inspector general’s office received an anonymous complaint alleging that the deputy mayor used her staff for child care and “continued consultation with her former employer’s clients” while in office. Before her appointment as deputy mayor in 2015, Snowden worked at the Raben Group, a public-affairs and lobbying firm.
Investigators determined that Snowden did not violate any city rules during interactions with her former firm or its clients.
In one incident examined by the inspector general, Snowden attended a fundraiser after the District’s Office of General Counsel advised her that she should not accept a former client’s invitation to the event, because her seat would have been worth $500 and fallen under a prohibition on city officials receiving gifts.
Snowden ultimately went to the event — the Tim Russert Congressional Dinner hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington — in May 2015. However, she sat at a table sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club rather than at the former client’s table.
The inspector general concluded her attendance fell under an exception in city ethics rules for invitations from an event sponsor.
Snowden admitted to investigators that she asked an intern to transport her child to a relative’s office in Northwest D.C., but said she paid the person to do so and that the errand took place at the end of the day, after the intern’s working hours.
The intern and other witnesses confirmed the payment but said the trip happened during the work day, according to the report.
In a second instance, Snowden acknowledged that she told her staff pick up her child from school but said she did so “because the staff caused a conflict” by scheduling a meeting for her during the pickup time, the report states.
Snowden also admitted to leaving her child at her office while she attended a meeting. She said a relative was supposed to pick up the child within a half-hour but did not because of “vehicle issues,” the report states.
Snowden said she did not instruct her staff to look after her child while he was in the office. However, Lucas stated in his report that it was “implausible that Deputy Mayor Snowden would leave her 8-year-old child unattended . . . without the implied expectation” that her employees would look after the child.