Gray rebuffs Issa proposal to mandate federal hiring standards in DC

A House committee chairman wants to impose a criminal background check on politically appointed officials in the District, but D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray says the city already has rules that are “more stringent”.

The legislation proposed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, would require a criminal background check for political appointees and that the District follow federal standards in hiring government employees.

“This bill will help prevent past failures by ensuring that District of Columbia leaders are held accountable for conducting and reviewing the results of background checks when making hiring decisions,” Issa said in a statement. He described action by Congress as “the only way to implement needed standards as a bulwark against cronyism” unless District leaders come up with ways to address the problem.

Gray said the District adopted a more thorough vetting process last March.

“This legislation is ill-advised and unnecessary,” he said in a news release. “The District already runs a more stringent background check than the legislation would require.”

He said the current vetting process includes personal, civil and criminal information. Credit history, criminal offenses, driving and traffic records, bankruptcies, property ownership, and liens and judgments are reviewed. The checks also cover education, legal, and business affiliations.

Gray decried the bill as a violation of D.C.’s autonomy. He's not the only one to blast Issa's bill. Mary Cheh also released a statement Monday afternoon, DCist reports, saying that her own legislation takes a broader approach than Issa's proposal.