ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA) - The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority took action Wednesday to repair its battered image after strong criticism for lavish travel spending and insider contracts.
Last month, the federal transportation secretary, mayor of D.C. and governors of Virginia and Maryland issued a strong rebuke of the board's practices and demanded changes. It questioned the board's ethics and whether it was capable of managing the $5.6 billion Dulles Rail Silver Line project.
Chairman Mike Curto and CEO Jack Potter said they are adopting the best practices to restore whatever public trust they may have lost.
The first big change did come today with the board approving a new travel policy that is similar to federal guidelines. It caps spending and requires approval on trips.
But before that action came, so did another slap, but it's own board members. Three criticized the controversial hiring of former board member Mame Reiley who recently resigned from the board due to her health concerns.
Soon afterward, MWAA President and CEO hired Reiley as his assistant, giving her a salary of $180,000.
"It was mentioned to me that the governor of Virginia wanted Mame to be off the board," said board member Shirley Robinson Hall who said she was upset she didn't know about the hiring until she read it in the news.
"Anybody out there would see that as being paid off to get off the board of directors," said member Richard Carter.
Potter took responsibility for the action and said he followed all the rules which did not require him to seek approval of the board. However, he said it was a mistake and that Reiley will be leaving her post by October. She'll receive a severance package equal to her year's salary.
Not hiring recent former board members may become part of a new ethics policy. The board did not adopt one yet, arguing over whether they should or should not be allowed to recommended family and friends for jobs at Reagan National or Dulles.