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  • Obama-Appointed Metro Chairman Being Investigated For Ethics Violation

    A federally appointed member of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) is being investigated by the D.C. inspector general for a possible ethics violation.

    Mortimer Downey worked as a consultant for the engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff at the same time he served as a representative on the board for Metro, and that may have violated the agency’s conflict of interest rules, The Washington Post reports.

    The D.C. Office of the Inspector General filed a formal complaint with the Metro board’s ethics committee, though the details of that complaint were not made public.

    Up until about three months ago, Downey worked as a part-time adviser to Parsons Brinckerhoff, giving the firm strategic advice one day a week, and pulling in a $100,000 salary.

    Downey worked with the firm for 10 years before stepping down three months ago. He was appointed to the Metro board in 2010 and became chairman this year. Prior to serving on the Metro board, he worked for the Clinton administration as deputy secretary of transportation.

    In August, Metro filed a $166 million lawsuit against Parsons Brinckerhoff and two other contractors for the shoddy construction of the Silver Spring Transit Center.

    The lawsuit claims that a flaw in Parsons Brinckerhoff’s designs led to floors being built that could not withstand the hundreds of buses that would travel over them each day.

    The design flaw and faulty concrete used in the building’s structure caused the project to run five years behind schedule and cost Metro an extra $50 million in cost overruns.

    If Downey is found to have violated the Metro board’s code of ethics, he could be removed from the board.

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