The chair of the D.C. Council committee that drafted sweeping ethics reform legislation for the city's elected officials responded Monday to comments that the draft bill didn't go far enough to make a difference in squashing shady behavior.
“The bill responds specifically to recent ethical lapses by subjecting elected officials to strict penalties — criminal and civil — to enhanced disclosure of potential conflicts of interest, and to limits on the use of constituent services funds," Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser said in a statement. "And it sets up a new enforcement framework, the Board of Ethics, to sheriff any future misdeeds. It's a serious effort to restore the public's trust in its representatives."
The legislation, released Friday, is the result of the committee's task to merge nine proposed ethics bills into a single reform bill. The 58-page proposal includes forming a new Board of Ethics and Accountability with the authority to censure elected officials, requires elected officials to disclose outside income and business clients who have a stake in council activities, reduces constituent services fund caps to $40,000 and sets limits on expenditures from those funds.
Critics of the council have said the bill does not "have enough teeth," questioning a provision that allows the council to meet behind closed doors to discuss the censure of another member and not banning outside employment outright.