Several D.C. Council members have slowed their fundraising this summer, which is so far erasing a traditional advantage of incumbency, according to newly released campaign finance reports.
After prevailing in the April Democratic primary, Council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At large) raised just $11,000 between early June and the Aug. 10 reporting deadline.
Orange, a heavy favorite to secure one of two at-large seats on the November ballot, has just $9,850 in the bank. By comparison, attorney David Grosso reports he has nearly $56,000 in the bank for his bid as an independent candidate in the at-large race. Republican Mary Brooks Beatty has $22,500 in the bank.
In Ward 7, Council member Yvette Alexander (D) raised only $1,000 —including $500 from the Maryland, Delaware, D.C. Beverage Association and $500 from Bowie-based VBA Inc, which also has ties to the beverage industry. Alexander reports just under $4,000 in the bank.
Meanwhile, Alexander’s Republican opponent in the heavily democratic Ward, Ronald Moten, took in about $3,600 this summer. Moten has $4,100 in the bank.
But with less than three months until the election, the campaign finances of one council member up for election this year remain a mystery.
In June, Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At large) announced he had fired his campaign treasurer and requested an investigation after he discovered a substantial amount of money was missing from his campaign account.
According to sources familiar with the matter, Brown believes as much as $50,000 may have been embezzled from his account. Brown had $112,000 in the bank as of the June 10 reporting.
On Saturday, Brown’s campaign released a statement saying he has raised an additional $29,000 since his June report, but said he is not releasing his August campaign finance report. Brown said the Office of Campaign Finance, which is investigating the alleged theft, said he did not have to submit his campaign finance report while it looks into the matter.
“Although not required to do so, I will be releasing a list of contributions since my discovery of the missing funds to demonstrate my continued commitment to running a transparent campaign, Brown said. “However, my campaign will not compromise the ongoing inquiry and audit by discussing information that is material to either.”
Grosso, who believes Brown could be vulnerable because he holds one of two at-large seats reserved for a non-Democrat, blasted his decision not to release his full report.
“Council member Brown should reveal to the public all the facts surrounding the mysterious happenings within his campaign,” Grosso said. “He should be transparent about where the money has gone.”
By not filing, it cannot be determined how much money went missing from Brown’s account. That may complicate Grosso and Beatty’s campaigns because there is no way for them to know how much money their chief opponent has to spend this fall.
But Office of Campaign Finance spokesman Wesley Williams cautioned Brown will “have to file eventually.”
“He has to keep records and stay within contribution limits, but he’s just not required to file at this time,” Williams said.
In the Ward 2 and Ward 4 council races, incumbents Muriel Bowser and Jack Evans, both Democrats, are running unopposed. But Evans and Bowser are both mentioned as possible future mayoral contenders. In the hunt for campaign cash, Bowser so far has an edge with about $96,000 in the bank compared to Evans’ $51,000. But Evans only took in $1,500 this summer while Bowser has raised $19,000 since June.
Acting Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, an at-large member, reports he’s raised about $44,000 so far for the chairman’s race in November, a large chunk of which he collected from attorneys and major law firms.