Howard U. hospital plan moves forward despite ethics violations

A new Howard University teaching hospital is one step closer to being realized, despite the ethical entanglements of the man who garnered the deal.

Before approving legislation Tuesday allowing for up to $225 million in tax abatement for Howard University to build a new teaching hospital, D.C. Council members including Trayon White, of Ward 8, addressed the hours-old Board of Ethics and Government Accountability investigation findings.

“I’ll be voting in support despite ethics violations in the negotiations,” said White in a legislative meeting.

The night before, the board found former City Administrator Rashad Young did not act inappropriately, but inadvertently violated District ethics laws, in not recusing himself from negotiating the hospital deal for the city while knowing he’d be taking a job with Howard.

“He may have done so unintentionally,” said At-Large Council Member Elissa Silverman. “But that just speaks to how poor our ethics training is, if a top government official is unaware that our ethics laws forbid him from weighing in on a deal while trying to get a job from a beneficiary. That’s simply ethics 101.”

Young was fined $2,500 for the violation.

The council passed the legislation approving the tax abatement unanimously, with the understanding that it will be beneficial to improving the city’s documented health inequities, said At-Large Council Member Robert White.

“I think all of us recognize how important the Howard University hospital is, as only one of two remaining Black teaching hospitals in the nation,” he said.

Young left his position in August after Mayor Muriel Bowser said they agreed it was the best step, given her decision to launch an investigation into his actions. She said she learned of his job at Howard University at the end of July. Despite that investigation, Bowser urged the council to move forward with the legislation that will allow the project to proceed.

Securing hospital care for underserved areas of the city is a goal of Bowser’s administration. The mayor announced this spring there will be two new hospitals in D.C.: at St. Elizabeth’s in Ward 8, and the new Howard University Hospital on Georgia Avenue in Ward 1.

“Today, we are proud to help build on the legacy of Howard University and Howard’s College of Medicine, a premier medical school that produces more African American doctors than any other university in the country,” Bowser said in a statement following the council’s vote.

“For decades, Howard’s doctors and medical professionals have played a unique and important role in creating opportunity for African Americans and saving lives worldwide. The new Howard University Hospital, to be built on Georgia Avenue, will support that work, improve health outcomes for D.C. residents and, at this important moment in history, ensure a much-needed pipeline of African American medical professionals.”

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Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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