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Sources: Airports insider contract was for five years

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Photo - The under-construction Dulles Rail line. (Examiner file photo)
The under-construction Dulles Rail line. (Examiner file photo)
Local,Virginia,Transportation,Liz Essley

The controversial insider contract to former airports board member Mame Reiley for $180,000 plus benefits was a five-year agreement, complete with a one-year severance package, sources have told The Washington Examiner.

The news comes as the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board meets today to try to tighten ethics policy and clean up its image in the wake of recent public rebukes for Reiley's contract and other perceived abuses.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray demanded the airports authority fire any employees formerly serving as board members --a demand that would include Reiley, hired as a "senior adviser" immediately after she resigned from the board, citing health reasons. Reiley has breast cancer.

Former Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority officials who got jobs or contracts with the authority, all exclusively reported by The Washington Examiner.
> Mame Reiley: Resigned for health reasons in February, hired a day later as a "senior adviser" for a five-year contract at $180,000 a year plus benefits.
> Jeffrey Thompson: Linked to an illicit shadow campaign that benefited D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in 2010. His firm got nearly $1 million in contracts after he left the board.
> Bob Calhoun: The former state senator has so far earned $175,000 as a lobbyist for the authority.
> Kenneth Klinge: The Republican operative earned more than $105,000 as a lobbyist for the authority.
> Leonard Manning: Awarded a $42,000 no-bid contract to help import flowers from Ethiopia.
> Gregory Wolfe: The former board secretary advises the board on ethics issues under a series of contracts, including one for $197,000.

But Reiley, in addition to her $180,000 salary and benefits, has a five-year employment agreement with a one-year severance package, according to sources close to the issue -- an agreement that could complicate any discussion of her termination from the authority, which oversees Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International airports, as well as the $6 billion Dulles Rail project.

Airports authority officials could not confirm or deny the five-year agreement, saying they could not release the details as of press time.

And board officials have expressed no eagerness to get rid of Reiley -- even directors pressing for reform at the board have said they would not fire her.

But outside officials say that's not enough.

"The MWAA outside principals have made their desires very clear to the MWAA board. We hope that when they meet, they will take concrete action to implement the reforms that the principals are demanding and the board has indicated that they'll support," said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton.

A spokeswoman for LaHood said the secretary would "evaluate the outcome of Wednesday's meeting" and meet with board leadership later this month.

The Washington Examiner previously reported that Connaughton and other MWAA critics knew about Reiley's job before it appeared in the press but said they did not know how much money she would make. The job was initially offered to Reiley by a Virginia representative eager to reform the board, according to sources.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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