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Government and People
|ANTHONY A. WILLIAMS
April 2, 2003
The Honorable Linda W. Cropp
Dear Chairman Cropp:
Pursuant to section 404(3) of the District of Columbia Self-Govemment and Governmental Reorganization Act (Self-Government Act), D.C. Code § 1-204.04 (e) (2001), I am hereby vetoing Bill 15-200, the "Inspector General Qualifications Emergency Amendment Act of 2003." Although I am well aware of the Council's concerns with the incumbent Inspector General, I believe this legislation establishes an unacceptable precedent for addressing personnel matters, represents an intrusion into the separation of powers, and fast tracks a decision that should be treated judiciously.
A critical aspect of the operation of the Office of the Inspector General is its independence from political intrusions. Although ultimately accountable to all of us, the Inspector General must work in an environment where he or she can conduct thoughtful and thorough investigations into any matter within her or his jurisdiction without fear of interference, retaliation, and politic influence. This is why the statute establishing the Inspector General's Office provides for a fixed term and requires that the Inspector General may only be dismissed for cause by the Mayor.
The power to remove an executive official is an executive function - not a legislative function. See Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52(1926); see also Wilson v. Kelly, 615 A.2d 229 Q.C. 1992) (courts apply the same general separation of powers principles to the District government as are applied to the federal government). By imposing new qualification requirements on the incumbent that are impossible to meet by June 1, 2003, I believe the Council is violating firmly established separation of powers principles. See Ahearn v. Bailey, 451 P.2d 30 (Ariz. 1969)(legislature's power to abolish offices may not be used as a device to unseat the incumbent, thereby encroaching upon the authority of the executive); State ex rel. Hammond v. Maxfield, 132 P.2d 660 (Ut. 1943) (legislature may not indirectly circumvent the governor's power to remove); Kelley v. Clark, 193 A. 634 (Pa. 1937) (legislature cannot by direct or indirect means shift the power of removal). Using the legislative process to dismiss an incumbent from office undermines the rule of law instead of strengthening it.
Insofar as the Council's concerns about the overall job qualifications for an Inspector General, I continue to welcome the Council's input as we review and revise qualifications and expectations for District employees and agencies generally. However, the process of revising qualification standards should be undertaken in a judicious manner to ensure that future recruitment efforts result in consideration of the best-qualified candidates for the position. Imposing new requirements on an existing office holder would, in effect, allow the Council to dismiss any agency director that they had disagreements with, thereby undercutting the ability of any Mayor to manage the government
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