D.C. COUNCIL MEMBER Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large) has characterized his intervention with city health inspectors on behalf of a food store owner as “in the past . . . clearly acceptable constituent service.” No doubt his behavior was in keeping with D.C. political customs — which is why Mr. Orange’s acceptance of an admonishment by city ethics officials is a promising sign of the new board’s ability to raise the bar on how public business is conducted.
A ruling issued by the new Board of Ethics and Government Accountability last Thursday concluded that Mr. Orange violated the council’s code of conduct by abusing the “prestige of the office.” At issue was a visit he made Dec. 21 to a city produce market that a health inspector was trying to close for rat infestation and other issues. The owner had been a campaign contributor to Mr. Orange, but Mr. Orange said he was motivated only by his worries about 40 employees being put out of work four days before Christmas.