Fenty Won't Keep $45,000

By Yolanda Woodlee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 14, 2006

D.C. Mayor-elect Adrian M. Fenty will return campaign contributions apparently received after the November general election in an effort to "avoid even the appearance of a problem," a campaign attorney said yesterday.

The District Office of Campaign Finance had said Tuesday that it would review late contributions to Fenty after it received Fenty's finance report the day before. The Fenty campaign listed 69 contributions, totaling about $45,000, as having been received after the Nov. 7 election. Campaign regulations prohibit contributions after an election unless the money is earmarked to retire debt.

Fenty's campaign raised a total of $3.8 million and has $725,388 in cash on hand, according to its finance report. The campaign did not list any debt, although the finance director said there may still be some outstanding bills.

Peter Nickles, the general counsel to Fenty's campaign, said he notified the campaign finance office of the mayor-elect's decision to "be absolutely clean on this" by returning the contributions.

"I do not want there to be any doubt as to the commitment of this campaign to follow all laws and regulations even in their strictest interpretation," Nickles wrote. "Accordingly, out of an abundance of caution and to avoid even the appearance of a problem with full and complete compliance with the District's campaign finance laws, the Fenty 2006 mayoral campaign committee intends to return all funds received for whatever purpose after the general election."

Cecily E. Collier-Montgomery, director of the campaign finance office, said that she received the letter and that Fenty's campaign should return any checks dated after Nov. 7.

"It certainly indicates their intent to comply with the campaign finance act," she said of the letter. "It's voluntary compliance, and that's always a plus."

This year, the Board of Elections and Ethics amended regulations to say that "contributions should not be received or accepted after the election" except to retire debt. The amended regulation was adopted in April. The campaign finance office provides a series of training sessions to explain the rules to candidates and elected officials.

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