Silverman Letter on Removal of Corbett Price from WMATA Board

Councilmember Silverman sent the following letter to her colleagues before the D.C. Council's July 9 Legislative Meeting regarding an emergency resolution she introduced on July 9 to remove Corbett Price from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board of Directors in response to ethics concerns:

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing to explain my reasons for moving the emergency resolution removing Corbett Price from the WMATA Board of Directors. I ask for your support and vote in favor of the resolution.

I am moving this emergency because, especially at this time, the District needs a voting member on the WMATA board who is well-regarded, credible, and always acts in the city’s best interests. Mr. Price’s actions suggest he is not the right person for this role:

  • A member of the four-person WMATA ethics committee, Price misinformed the press about the determination of an ethics violation by then-WMATA Board Chair Jack Evans. Price covered up and perpetuated Evans’s misstatements that the committee had not found Evans in violation of WMATA’s Code of Conduct. As we now know, the committee agreed on one violation and considered a number of others.

I spoke with Mr. Price, and he said he believed since Councilmember Evans “cured” the violation by reporting his clients, he was no longer in violation. The question asked by the press was whether the committee found any violations. They had, and Price knowingly misled the press.

  • A June 27, 2019 Washington Post story noted that in the wake of these revelations, voting members of the WMATA Board “blocked” Price from serving as vice-chairman. This suggests that the voting members appointed by MD, VA, and the feds do not trust Price. Given MD Governor Hogan’s recent decision to withhold critical funding from WMATA, the District needs a member who is respected and persuasive. Being “blocked” suggests Mr. Price has lost the trust of board members.

  • That same story notes that Price did not sign on to a letter from other ethics committee members making investigations more transparent. Price told the Post he didn’t sign because he didn’t receive the letter: “If they sent it to me, I did not receive it. . . . I’m not receiving the emails. They keep changing the passcode.”  

  • Price continues to assert that he “did nothing wrong” in his statements about the ethics committee’s findings.
  • Price’s credibility also comes into question regarding his management of United Medical Center in Ward 8. As you might recall, Price served as Chairman of the Board of Veritas of Washington, which put UMC into a deep financial hole yet Price said everything was fine. That’s why we didn’t renew the Veritas contract. Price bills himself as a “turnaround expert,” but his firm’s management of UMC, and its failed management of a hospital in New York City, is evidence of the opposite.
  • Finally, and this arose during the contract debate with UMC, it is unclear whether the District is the full-time home for Price and his family. The house listed as his DC residence is actually owned by an LLC. On the registration papers at DCRA for the LLC, Price lists his address as 455 West 148th Street in New York City. He does not claim the homestead deduction on the DC property. 

District residents deserve a WMATA voting member who always acts with integrity and fidelity in the best interests of the city. Given his lack of forthrightness, and for the reasons listed above, Mr. Price has proven to be unworthy of this important public-serving role.

I ask you to support the emergency legislation removing Mr. Price from the WMATA Board. He is one of the Mayor’s nominees, along with DDOT Director Jeff Marootian, who is the alternate. An argument has been made that there isn’t a voting member to put in his place. If the Mayor so wishes, she could make Director Marootian the voting member and nominate another person to serve as an alternate.

This episode has hurt our credibility on and with the board—as well as with the public. Let’s not perpetuate it by keeping Mr. Price on the WMATA Board. Thanks for your consideration.