Referring to three $1,000 checks — $1,000 is the maximum allowed by law — his campaign committee received on the same day from three businesses closely tied to Thompson, Mendelson said: “I thought that they were different companies.” He also told the Times, “It’s hard for a candidate to know the financial relationships between companies,” adding that donors typically know the law and that “if they get caught, they’re the ones who are breaking the law.” What a hoot!
When The Post’s editorial board confronted council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large) about campaign contributions he received via money order, he acknowledged that they were “suspicious and questionable” and wrote that the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance “should examine the money orders to determine if they are legal or illegal.” Go Vincent, ye olde buck passer.
I asked Cecily Collier-Montgomery, director of the city’s Office of Campaign Finance, who is responsible for compliance with campaign finance laws. She replied in an e-mail Wednesday: “It is ultimately incumbent upon the candidate, treasurer, and officers of political committees to ensure compliance with the mandates of the Campaign Finance Laws.”
Collier-Montgomery explained what every elected official in the District should know by heart: City laws clearly prescribe the conditions and safeguards political committees must meet to undertake campaign operations.
For example, political committees must have a chairman as well as a treasurer who is authorized to receive and disburse funds. No one can make expenditures without the authorization of the treasurer or chairman.
The law, Collier-Montgomery pointed out, requires the treasurer and the candidate to keep detailed and exact records of contributions, including information on the identity of each person who has made contributions that total $50 or more, and detailed information on expenditures.
With respect to the reports of contributions and expenditures submitted to her office by political committees, Collier-Montgomery stressed: “The treasurer must verify by oath or affirmation, subject to penalties of perjury, that the contents of the report are true, correct, and complete.”
That means, she noted, that the committee is responsible for ensuring it does not accept contributions that, when added to all other contributions received from a single person, exceed legal contribution limits.
All those running for at-large council seats are prohibited from accepting campaign contributions from an individual in excess of $1,000.