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Posted at 01:51 PM ET, 01/10/2011

D.C. Democratic Committee head says her Biddle vote 'is private'

The head of the D.C. Democratic State Committee is refusing to publicly state who she voted for in last week's party vote on an interim at-large council member, calling the matter "private."

Anita Bonds, the head of the state committee, said the 82-member committee used an "open ballot" process when it selected Sekou Biddle over Vincent Orange to temporarily fill D.C. Council Chairman's Kwame Brown's former at-large seat.

But Bonds said an "open ballot" doesn't mean individual committee members should have to go public with their votes.

"An open ballot is where when you get your ballot, and your ballot is recorded ... individual members do not have to tell people," Bonds said.

According to Democratic National Committee bylaws, "all meetings ... and all other party committees, commissions and bodies shall be open to the public and votes shall not be taken by secret ballot."

But local and national party officials are divided over how that provision should be applied to state-level parties and intraparty elections.

A few hours before Thursday's vote, Biddle posted on Twitter that he won Bonds's support. Bonds, however, said Monday she "wasn't pledged to anyone," although she declined to state whom she ultimately supported.

"My vote is private," Bonds said.

Thursday's meeting also highlighted another longstanding practice in local District politics - low-dollar cash donations to political committees.

During the meeting, party leaders passed around a bucket to collect cash donations that do not have be reported as coming from a specific individual. Wesley Williams, a spokesman for the Office of Campaign Finance, said local parties could collect up to $24.99 in cash without having to itemize it on finance reports.

"What you are supposed to do is announce to the crowd, 'We can accept $24.99 in cash and anything above that has to come in by check or money order,' " Williams said. "There can be instances where someone can throw a $50 or $100 in there, but you've made your effort."

Bonds said all the cash donations conformed to campaign finance regulations and will be reported as "lump sum" contributions.

"The treasurer immediately took control and it was only like $200," said Bonds, adding that the money was then placed in a "lock box."

Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republican Party, said his organization usually does not solicit or accept cash donations.

"We never pass the hat, that is the worst thing you can do," Craney said. "Cash is such a hassle to deal with."

By  |  01:51 PM ET, 01/10/2011

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