A number of Virginia lawmakers are calling for the General Service Administration (GSA) to reverse its decision to move the new FBI headquarters to Maryland, citing accusations of “political interference” in the selection process, according to a joint statement released Thursday.
The GSA announced Wednesday that it chose Greenbelt, Maryland, for the new $300 million FBI headquarters location instead of Washington, D.C., or Springfield, Virginia. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and 10 lawmakers from the state said the decision made by a senior GSA official was “irrevocably undermined and tainted” as it ignored the recommendation of an expert panel of FBI and GSA officials, according to the statement. (RELATED: FBI Director Says Agency Had ‘Conflict Of Interest’ In Selecting New Headquarters Location)
“We are deeply disturbed to learn that a political appointee at the General Services Administration overruled the unanimous recommendation of a three-person panel comprised of career experts from the GSA and the [FBI] concluding that Springfield, Virginia is the site best suited for the new FBI headquarters,” the joint statement reads. “We have repeatedly condemned political interference in the independent, agency-run site selection process for a new FBI headquarters.”
— Rep. Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) November 9, 2023
“Any fair weighing of the criteria points to a selection of Virginia,” the statement reads. “It is clear that this process has been irrevocably undermined and tainted, and this decision must now be reversed.”
The GSA official in question was identified as Nina Albert, according to The New York Times.
In addition to Youngkin, statement signatories included Democratic Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, Republican Reps. Jen Kiggans and Rob Wittman and Democratic Reps. Don Beyer, Jennifer McClellan, Bobby Scott, Abigal Spanberger, Jennifer Wexton, Rob Wittman and Gerry Connolly, according to the joint statement.
The statement comes hours after FBI Director Christopher Wray also accused Albert of having a “conflict of interest” in her decision to move the new headquarters to Maryland. Wray said the FBI had “concerns about fairness and transparency” in the selection process and felt those concerns remained “unresolved.”
“We identified concerns about a potential conflict of interest involving the site selection authority and whether changes that individual” — referring to Albert — “made in the final stage of the process adhered to the site selection criteria,” Wray wrote in a letter on Thursday.
Albert previously worked for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA), which owns the Greenbelt land, giving her “direct affiliation with one of the parties of this procurement,” according to Wray. Albert served as GSA’s director of real estate until last month; she then became the acting deputy mayor for planning and economic development in D.C., according to the NYT.
GSA and the FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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