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Turf war: MWAA hearing turns into battle for representation

WASHINGTON – A Capitol Hill hearing into the corruption case of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority turned into a turf war between lawmakers.

The House hearing addressed a litany of abuses uncovered by a Department of Transportation investigation into MWAA, the organization which oversees Dulles International and Reagan National airports plus the Metro extension to Dulles.

Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly testified at the hearing, pushing for his state to have the majority of seats on MWAA’s Board of Directors.

“Clearly, the practices of this governing body of MWAA have shown serious flaws with the governance structure,” he said.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. delegate and ranking committee member, was not happy with that idea.

“What Mr. Connelly proposes is essentially a takeover of the airports authority,” Norton said.

The investigation revealed cases where employees abused their power by accepting gifts, like free Super Bowl tickets from contractors, among other ethical lapses.

Connolly says he has cosponsored legislation to change MWAA’s governing body so it is more Virginia-centric.

Norton strongly disagreed with Connolly’s idea, calling it a takeover of the system.

Even Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was pulled into the issue.

“I don’t want to be telling every airport authority across the country how many members they should have,” he said.

WTOP’s Kathy Stewart contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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