To D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty, who was unopposed in his bid for reelection to the Ward 4 council seat, it seemed to be a simple gesture. He sent out a citywide thank-you note to supporters and contributors to his campaign. It was, he said, the right thing to do.
"Thank you for your support of my successful reelection campaign!" the flier read. "I am proud and humbled by the support that my campaign enjoyed. . . . I will continue to work with you to improve services for you and your neighbors while making sure our government better serves those most in need. The District of Columbia government cannot rest until we maximize our potential and become the standard for others to emulate."
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D.C. City Council
But some recipients of the glossy flier with "Fenty" in large print questioned whether the council member was indirectly using money left over from his 2004 Ward 4 election to reach out across the city to voters who may support a potential run for mayor in two years. The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance has flagged Fenty's flier for review.
Fenty, a Democrat, said that he is sensitive to campaign finance law and that his reelection committee was not trying to circumvent the law, "no ifs, ands and buts about it." He pointed out that the flier had a disclaimer saying it was paid for by his reelection committee and that it does not mention "anything about a mayoral campaign." Fenty's exploratory committee is sponsoring an event in January.
"No, that was not our intention," Fenty said. "The thought never crossed my mind.
"There is a firewall between our reelection campaign and the exploratory committee," Fenty said. "It doesn't say anything about voting for me for anything else."
The flier, which was received by supporters last week, was sent to the campaign finance office, which is charged with reviewing candidates's contributions and expenditures, and in this case, post-election spending. The expenses for the Fenty fliers were not listed in the Dec. 10 report filed by his treasurer, a campaign finance official said.
Fenty said his reelection committee, which raised more than $350,000, sent out 6,000 of the fliers at a cost of $5,500. He said the costs were paid in a check written after the Dec. 10 report deadline and will be included in his January report.
Kathy S. Williams, general counsel for the campaign finance office, said that her office is conducting a preliminary examination of Fenty's post-election campaign expenditures. The reports of all the candidates who submitted Dec. 10 reports will also be reviewed for any post-election expenses.
"We received a copy of that mailer last week," Williams said. "Our chief of audit sent out a letter to the committee asking about this expense and all other post-election expenses."
Williams said that Fenty's after-election expenses are being reviewed "to determine what the link is to his run for office."
The review will also look at thousands of dollars in bonuses that Fenty gave to campaign workers in late November.
Fenty said he was unaware that the campaign finance office had sent a letter or that his fliers had raised questions.
"As far as I know, thanking people after the campaign, is the right thing to do," Fenty said. "We're not trying to hide it. In fact, we sent it out to 6,000 people."