Mayor Adrian Fenty’s nominee for D.C.’s Board of Elections and Ethics said he’d recuse himself if he ever thought his close ties to the mayor and the attorney general would affect his judgment.
Togo West made the comment Monday during a council committee hearing on the former secretary of the Army and veterans affair’s nomination. Fenty nominated West last week after board of elections Chairman Errol Arthur announced he’d be resigning Aug. 2 to take a job as a judge at the D.C. Superior Court.
According to District campaign finance records, West donated $500 to Fenty’s campaign in 2006, although he’s made no donation to the mayor’s re-election bid.
During Monday’s hearing, he described D.C. Attorney General and top Fenty advisor Peter Nickles as a “fine lawyer and good friend.” West once worked for Nickles while West was an intern and Nickles an associate at the law firm Covington & Burling.
On Monday Councilwoman Mary Cheh asked West if he’d recuse himself if he thought he couldn’t act fairly because of his friendships.
“If it ever struck me that I couldn’t, I would say so,” West said.
Arthur’s resignation announcement last week threatened to throw the Sept. 14 primary into turmoil. His departure would bring the three-member board down to one person if Arthur isn’t replaced quickly. Without a quorum, the board wouldn’t be able to approve the votes from the primary.
But the council’s trust in West’s deep background as a fair administrator with strong ties to the District is now likely to put an end to the 18-month battle between councilmembers and the mayor to fill board vacancies.