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Gray nominates 3 to ethics board

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D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (second from right) holds a press conference to announce his nominees to the new Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Robert J. Spagnoletti (left) Deborah A. Lathen (second from left) and Laura M. Richards (right) at the John A. WIlson Building on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. (Rod Lamkey Jr/The Washington Times)

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Tuesday named three attorneys to serve on the newly created D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, which emerged as part of legislative reforms intended to restore faith in city hall after a year of scandals and ongoing criminal probes by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Gray tapped a former D.C. attorney general, Robert Spagnoletti, to be chairman of the board alongside members Laura Richards, a Republican from Ward 7, and Deborah Lathen, a Chicago native who lives in Ward 4.

The board is charged with investigating potential ethics violations among D.C. employees and issuing rules and regulations to guide conduct among elected leaders and public officials.

The nominees must be confirmed by the D.C. Council.

“The people who you have before you, I think, are sterling candidates,” Mr. Gray said at a press conference to unveil the nominees. “They will act as watchdogs and safeguards for the District’s public trust.”

Mr. Spagnoletti, a Ward 4 resident, said the District can expect “the highest level of service” from the board, which was created by divorcing ethics duties from the city’s elections board. He said he does not expect to recuse himself from many cases before the board, despite serving as Mr. Gray’s personal attorney on an “isolated matter” regarding a fence around Mr. Gray’s home in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Ward 7.

He also does not anticipate that clients of Shertler & Onorato, the law firm where he is a partner, will prompt him to recuse himself from the board’s activities.

“I don’t think that’s likely to happen much, if at all,” he said at a press conference to unveil the nominees.

Ms. Richards recently retired from a 24-year career at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, according to the mayor’s office. She previously worked as a journalist and as an attorney in private practice.

Mr. Gray praised the D.C. Republican Committee for their assistance in finding her as a nominee to the board, since no more than two of the members may come from the same political party.

Ms. Lathen worked as private counsel and as a consultant for major companies for more than 20 years, the mayor’s office said. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

“I love Washington, D.C.,” she said Tuesday. “And I say that as a native Chicagoan, which I had always that was the best city in the world.”

About the Author

Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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