Donations to Jack Evans constituent fund are under probe

September 4, 2013

Evans, the council’s longest-serving member, launched his second mayoral campaign in June. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

City campaign finance authorities are questioning whether donations accepted by D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Jack Evans are permissible.

William O. SanFord, general counsel for the Office of Campaign Finance, said during a Wednesday meeting of the Board of Elections that the agency opened a preliminary investigation last month into whether donations to Evans’s constituent service fund broke campaign finance regulations.

The inquiry involves “contributions from three entities that appear to be affiliated with same primary ownership,” SanFord said. Under city law, a parent company and subsidiaries “share a single contribution limitation” — $500 a year in the case of constituent service funds.

Evans (D-Ward 2) said Wednesday he has not been contacted by the campaign finance office about the matter. “From what I’ve gathered, it is a routine observation of whether or not one of our donations is a duplicate donation,” he said. “If that is indeed the case, we would return the duplicate check.”

Evans said he could not say for certain which donations the inquiry pertained to. His constituent service fund reported raising roughly $40,000 in February, including from related Georgetown-based businesses.

In its most recent filing, on July 1, the fund reported having $25,565 on hand. Spending reported from the preceding months included ACLU and Sierra Club memberships ($300), stickers and beads for the Capital Pride parade ($1,120.88), constituent burial assistance ($250), constituent rental assistance ($200) and Washington Wizards and Capitals tickets ($12,090.77).

Evans said it is “unheard of” for the office of campaign finance to scrutinize political donations in this manner.

“The onus in the past has not been on the campaign to make any determination about how donations are being made,” he said. “If that’s the way Campaign Finance is going to do things going forward we need to know that.”

Wesley Williams, a spokesman for the Office of Campaign Finance, said the agency has made not change in operations. “Still the same procedures,” he said.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · September 4, 2013