Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's ethics questioned in audit

(Photo: Brianne Carter)

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s board of directors is meeting Wednesday to discuss growing concerns over some members’ questionable spending.

An{ }audit of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), done at the request of a couple of local congressman, found evidence of a lack of transparency and questionable spending.

The MWAA is overseeing construction of Metro's Silver Line, which is supposed to eventually go from Falls Church past Dulles Airport and have several stops in Loudoun County.

But many in Loudoun are urging county leaders to opt out of paying to bring Metro rail service to Loudoun, and the audit is giving fuel to their fire.

"It basically confirms my worst fears," said Loudoun County Supervisor Ken Reid of Leesburg. "They have some serious, serious problems over there, and I just don't want Loudoun County to be involved in that."

The audit found a lack of transparency at MWAA and also said the authority was not used to being held accountable for its actions.

It also found a number of examples of questionable spending of public money by members of MWAA's board. Among them:

- Several board members spent $4800 on three meals for themselves and some guests during a conference in Hawaii

- One board member spent $238 on two bottles of wine

- One board member spent $9200 on round trip airline tickets to Prague in the Czech Republic for a conference; the audit's writers felt if the ticket had been purchased earlier, it would have been much cheaper

No one from the MWAA did an interview Tuesday, but a spokesperson did send out a statement from President and CEO John Potter, which said MWAA would address all the concerns brought up by the federal audit.

It went on to say, "We will do whatever is necessary to revise and strengthen our policies and procedures to ensure transparency and accountability.”

Some we talked to in Loudoun still support bringing Metro rail service to the county in spite of the audit, saying it will be a huge boost to the county's economy.

Others are concerned taxpayers will wind up on the hook for unnecessary spending by the MWAA.

The MWAA also oversees Ronald Reagan National Airport and Dulles Airport.