Natwar Gandhi, the District's chief financial officer, has won Mayor Vincent Gray's backing for a new term as the city's fiscal scorekeeper, the Washington Examiner has learned.
Numerous city officials said Gray had approached Gandhi in recent days to offer him a new, five-year term. The aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting the mayor, expected Gray to announce the appointment well before the June 30 expiration of Gandhi's existing term. The D.C. Council will have to approve Gandhi's nomination, though he can remain in office while legislators deliberate.
A spokesman for Gandhi declined to comment.
Though Gray has chosen to keep Gandhi in his job, the two men have occasionally clashed. As recently as March, Gray described a revenue projection Gandhi issued as "unrealistically low," prompting speculation that the mayor might oust the CFO. Ultimately, Gray never made overt moves to size up potential replacements.
Gandhi has close ties to many lawmakers, which will put his nomination on a path toward approval, officials said.
At-large Councilman Michael Brown, the chairman of the council's economic development committee, said he was unaware of Gandhi's reappointment but that he wanted Gandhi to stay, especially with the District's ongoing political turmoil.
"It's important for us to show as much stability as possible," Brown said.
Gandhi's lengthy tenure as CFO -- he was appointed in 2000 -- has been marked by budget surpluses, improved credit ratings and a rosy relationship with investors. The District's savings account stands at $1.1 billion, more than double its size from when Gandhi took control of city finances.
But Gandhi has also faced questions from lawmakers and the District's inspector general about his conservative revenue predictions and his handling of the city's lottery contract.
One of Gandhi's most persistent critics, at-large Councilman David Catania, said he wasn't surprised Gray chose to reappoint the CFO.
"It's as predictable as it is disappointing," Catania said. "The fact that the city has done well financially has little to do with Nat Gandhi and everything to do with that the city is growing."
Catania also expressed concern that Gray, whose 2010 campaign is under scrutiny by federal investigators, didn't conduct a broad search for a CFO.
"Had we conducted a national search and found a person that we had some confidence in and actively tried to recruit that person, we could have had an alternative to Nat Gandhi, and we didn't do that," Catania said. "I think the mayor has had so many issues of his own that he probably didn't view this as a No. 1 priority."