The readers of this blog are familiar with the idea that no one can serve two masters.
What happens when a local elected official has been chosen to serve on a regional transit board? Should the official act advocate the interests of the locality in the same way that a Senator advocates her state's interests in Congress? Or does the official instead have fiduciary obligations to the the regional authority, requiring him to set aside the interests of the locality in favor of the regional authority?
A prominent law firm, Cadwalader, took the latter position when it investigated DC Councilmember Jim Graham, who served on the regional Metro board.
Graham allegedly offered to support a local businessman's bid for the DC lottery contract if the businessman withdrew from a Metro development project.
While it is not at all clear that Graham was motivated by a concern for the District's interests, Cadwalader concluded that Graham “pitted the interests of the Council of the District of Columbia against the interests of Metro, and thereby unnecessarily created a conflict of interest, or, at the least, the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
Graham no longer serves on the Metro board, but DC's new Board of Ethics and Government Accountability is considering whether to investigate Graham.
My oped on this issue will run in Sunday's Washington Post.