District’s Shutdown Plan Is “Idiocy Of Immense Proportions,” Says Former U.S. Attorney

Filed under: District of Columbia |

By Will Sommer

A little law-breaking can be contagious. Mayor Vince Gray risks violating the Anti-Deficiency Act if he keeps the entire city government running during a shutdown without the feds’ approval, but he’s not alone. D.C. Council chairman Phil Mendelson is set to introduce his own bill Tuesday to keep the city running. Councilmember David Grosso, meanwhile, says the District should build on the shutdown fight and start ignoring the portion of the Home Rule Charter that requires 30 days of congressional review for D.C. legislation.

The mayor and Council aren’t afraid of breaking the Anti-Deficiency Act because it’s toothless. No one has been prosecuted for it since it became law in 1884. “I can’t imagine how Eric Holder would come in and arrest anyone of us for doing this,” Grosso said yesterday.

Former D.C. U.S. Attorney Joe DiGenova, though, thinks otherwise. DiGenova tells LL that the act hasn’t been tested only because no one has been “dumb enough” to break it. While they likely would avoid the criminal penalty of two years in jail, according to DiGenova, councilmembers, the mayor, and top city employees would be personally liable for fines.

“It’s not the city’s liability,” says DiGenova. “It’s the person who authorizes the …read more

Read more here: Washington City Paper

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