The Council of the District of Columbia
The Office of Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 6, 2012
Director of Communications: Kiara Pesante o: 202-724-8089 c: 202-701-9439
Councilmember Cheh Proposes Major Campaign Finance Reforms
New bill will address pay-to-play activities, ban corporate contributions
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, Chair Pro Tempore of the Council of the District of Columbia, will introduce the “Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2012.” The bill would amend the “Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Amendment Act of 2011.” Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6) is co-introducing.
“The Council needs to address the District’s many campaign-finance issues in a serious way,” said Councilmember Cheh. “In light of recent events, the time to do that is now. I wholeheartedly support the efforts of the District residents working on this, and this legislation falls in line with their goals. I want us to proceed along both tracks. How and from what sources candidates for public office fund their campaigns needs to be more transparent.”
The “Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2012” would prohibit pay-to-play, require disclosure of external fundraising activities, and – most notably – ban corporate contributions. The bill establishes new definitions for ‘affiliate,’ ‘District contractor,’ and ‘elected official.’ The legislation clarifies and creates restrictions, cures, and penalties on campaign contributions from certain persons, businesses, and contractors. Today’s bill also includes the following:
o Requires disclosure of certain external fundraising activities;
o Elected officials may serve as an honorary member of non-profit fundraiser, but only if they do not stand to gain financially – the candidate cannot use public resources and must file a quarterly report.
o A District contractor cannot donate to a campaign during the application for, or performance of, a contract if the contribution is to a candidate who may vote on or have approval of the contract award;
o No District agency shall award a contract to any person, business, or contractor, if he or she has made contributions totaling $2,000 or more within the previous three years to benefit a candidate who may vote on, or have approval of, the award of a contract;
o Prohibits District contractors from investing in a financial venture in which a public official has at least a five percent interest, if that public official is in a position to approve a contract with the District contractor;
o Explicitly prohibits public employees from soliciting contributions in exchange for the prior award of a contract with the District;
o Prohibits fundraisers – those who have raised funds in excess of $10,000 – from receiving a government contract, lease, or appointment within two years of fundraising;
o Establishes methods to cure such violations (returning funds);
o Requires voiding a contract or repayment of funds if a violation occurs.
Prohibition on contributions from District contractors
o Contributions from District contractors would be strictly prohibited. A ‘District contractor’ is someone who owns 10 percent of a business (or is a Board member, officer, or manager of a business) that has a contract with the District or is actively seeking a contract with the District;
o New campaign contribution forms would include the individual’s status as a ‘District contractor.’ Contributions that do not include such information must be returned.
Ban on corporate contributions
o Prohibits contributions from all corporate entities, including partnerships, LLCs, and non-profits.