President Biden’s nominee to head the FAA, Phil Washington, had a warrant served this morning in the criminal case involving his previous role at Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority.
BREAKING: #LASD serving warrants in multiple locations in the criminal case involving @metrolosangeles @SheilaKuehl , Patti Giggans, @PeaceOvrViolnce & Phil Washington currently in nomination process by @JoeBiden for head of FAA. pic.twitter.com/VuRzvm0iqC
— The Local (@thelocalmalibu) September 14, 2022
Washington is the current head of Denver International Airport. The Denver City Council approved hiring him despite a criminal investigation covering his prior role in Los Angeles where a whistleblower – that Washington calls a disgruntled employee – claims there was a corrupt contracting process. In particular several no-bid contracts for LA Metro’s sexual harassment hotline were awarded at a cost of over $8,000 per call to a charity led to a friend and donor of Metro board member and L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. She says the contract decision was Washington’s.
Whether there was actual, prosecutable corruption, or mere incompetence – and whether Washington was involved in any corruption or simply a hands-off manager – the scenarios and optics here do not look good for his nomination or for the Biden administration.
How good a manager could he be if the contract was corrupt? If the contract wasn’t corrupt and just a horrible deal? If he’s supervising disgruntled employees who make up allegations of corruption? Yet it’s his management skill that is supposed to justify the appointment.
T&I chair Rep. Peter DeFazio sings the praises of Phil Washington, nominee for the next FAA administrator:
"Washington doesn't have a tremendous amount of aviation experience, but what that place [FAA] needs is a manager. And this guy is a manager." 1/2
— Oriana Pawlyk (@Oriana0214) July 13, 2022
The only ‘save’ here is that Denver hired him knowing about the story, and the Biden administration vetted him and nominated him knowing about the story. While it seems a strange risk to take, they were confident enough in taking it that I have to wonder if there’s less here than meets the eye.