A former top aide to D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has agreed to pay $3,000 to settle an ethics investigation into her use of government staff for babysitting.
Former deputy mayor Courtney Snowden, as part of a written agreement with the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability finalized on Oct. 4, acknowledged three instances of misconduct stemming from her requests that her employees and interns care for her child during work hours. She will pay the fine, first reported by WAMU, in 12 monthly installments of $250.
Snowden stepped down from her job in the Bowser administration last month. She didn’t respond to requests for comment.
According to her signed agreement with the ethics board, she “accepted full responsibility for her actions and expressed remorse” and asked that her long work hours and status as a single mother be taken into account when judging her behavior.
She also said that when the incidents took place, several months after she was appointed, she was “still transitioning into” her government job.
Bowser spokeswoman LaToya Foster said in a statement Monday that the allegations against Snowden were “addressed months ago” internally by the mayor’s office.
“We hope that this decision doesn’t discourage other moms and dads from considering working for DC government, but challenges all of us to think about better ways to support parents throughout our government,” Foster said.
The board’s finding is the coda to 18 months in which Snowden repeatedly found herself at the center of high-profile ethics scandals.
A former public affairs professional who in 2014 ran an unsuccessful campaign for the D.C. Council, Snowden was appointed by Bowser in April 2015 to fill a new deputy mayor’s position focused on business development and jobs programs, especially in less-affluent neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.
In May 2017 she was one of two members of the mayor’s Cabinet — along with City Administrator Rashad M. Young — caught up in a D.C. inspector general’s probe into former schools chancellor Kaya Henderson’s preferential treatment for influential parents in the District’s public school lottery.
The investigation found that government officials, including Snowden and Young, were among those Henderson helped to circumvent the lottery that families must enter to enroll their children at desirable public schools outside their neighborhoods.
In November 2017, a separate inspector general’s investigation found that Snowden had improperly used her government staff to care for her child. That probe also examined, but did not substantiate, allegations that Snowden kept up inappropriate contact with her former employer and private-sector clients after taking office.
The child-care allegation was also reviewed by the District’s ethics board, which determined that Snowden had violated the city’s policies on using or making requests to staff for purposes unrelated to government business.
In one of those instances — all of which took place in August 2015 — she had an intern accompany her child in an Uber car to her parents’ home in Northwest Washington, according to Snowden’s agreement with the ethics board. She said she paid the intern for the task and recalled that it took place outside the workday but did not dispute the ethics board’s finding that it happened during regular working hours.
On a separate occasion, Snowden left her child for an extended period at her office while she attended a meeting elsewhere. On a third day, she asked her staff to pick up her child from school during working hours, although they ultimately did not do so, the ethics board agreement states.