Nader Had Campaign Office at Charity
The Nader campaign has reported paying about $65,000 in rent for its Washington office space beginning in October. The offices take up about 5,000 square feet in an area where the market rate is about $30 per square foot annually, real estate brokers said. That would mean that the entire space would rent for about $12,500 a month. Nader's campaign paid about $6,700 a month for rent for November through February, FEC reports state. Then, on April 6, the campaign wrote two checks for "rent and occupancy" totaling $26,000.
Zeese, the campaign spokesman, said the campaign paid only a portion of the rent during the early months because it was in an exploratory stage and did not need all the space. "We gradually were taking over the office as we grew," he said. "We were tiny. We were growing."
The campaign has also changed how it made out rent checks over time, according to FEC reports. In November, December, February and March, FEC reports say that rent checks were made to Citizen Works/Resources Conservation Center. In October and January, Nader's expenditure filings state, the checks were made out to Resources Conservation Center, the building's owner and a limited liability corporation owned by another charity. Federal election law requires the filings to report precisely to whom disbursements are made.
In October and March, the campaign made two payments amounting to about $6,000 to Citizen Works for "furniture & equipment."
Citizen Works's annual report lists its activities as holding news conferences, helping grass-roots groups, producing a newsletter and developing an e-mail list. It raised $181,000 in 2001, but ran a $15,000 deficit. The next year that deficit was recouped when the charity received a $21,000 "subtenant" payment from the Nader 2000 presidential campaign and about $580,000 in contributions, according to the tax return.
The connections between Nader's political activities and the charity go back to the creation of Citizen Works. As late as 2003, Nader's 2000 campaign organization rented space from Citizen Works as the campaign closed out its books. On March 1, 2002, Amato received $3,225 from the campaign for her services as a consultant, FEC reports state. On the same day, the campaign wrote a rent check to Citizen Works for $4,000. At the time, Amato was the campaign's treasurer and Citizen Works's executive director and president, records show.
The offices in question are in a building north of Scott Circle favored by nonprofit groups such as the National Wildlife Federation. The Nader campaign's ability to use the offices is by itself an achievement because it is a coveted location, popular for its energy-saving features and one-acre park dotted with rosebushes.
A visit to the building reveals a lobby directory and hallway signs stating that Citizen Works is in Suite 225. The Nader campaign is not listed, and its presence is not commonly known; an employee in the building said her co-workers were surprised one day to see Nader in the elevator. Asked for the Nader campaign, a security guard directed visitors to Suite 225.
Inside the office suite, under a large photograph of Nader holding a protest sign, Nader took time from a strategy meeting to speak with a reporter recently. Asked about the rental arrangements, Nader said all rules were followed. "There's no story," Nader said.
Post researchers Alice Crites and Madonna A. Lebling contributed to this report.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Ralph Nader's presidential campaign organization has offices in this building that it previously subleased from Citizen Works, a public charity.
(Alexa Hackbarth -- The Washington Post)