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D.C. Mayor-elect Vincent Gray details transition finances

By Mike DeBonis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 1, 2010; 6:42 PM

Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray has raised more than $180,000 for his transition operation and inauguration festivities, tapping a network of business interests that includes real estate developers that gave heavily to his electoral opponent, Adrian M. Fenty.

Gray (D) disclosed details on his transition finances Wednesday, less than a month after announcing that he would not accept the city funding that has been allotted for previous mayoral transitions.

Citing a city budget shortfall estimated at more than $400 million, Gray has chosen to raise private funds to cover transition expenses, which generally include office space, staff, printing and travel costs.

The largest donors include Franklin L. Haney Jr., who is part of a family venture pursuing a massive development project along the Anacostia waterfront. The Franklin L. Haney Co., founded by his father, is seeking the right to redevelop the 67-acre Hill East site that includes the former D.C. General Hospital campus. Haney Sr., his companies and family members donated $28,000 to Fenty's reelection campaign.

Also giving $25,000 to the inauguration effort is the investment fund of real estate developer Calvin Cafritz. Cafritz is chairman of the board of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, which is pursuing a development project near the Fort Totten Metro Station in Ward 5.

Foulger-Pratt Development, a Rockville firm, gave $20,000 to the inauguration effort. Foulger-Pratt is pursuing projects in the city that include a retail-based redevelopment of the former Curtis Chevrolet site on upper Georgia Avenue NW. The dealership site served as Fenty's campaign headquarters.

Several participants in the large-scale redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront in Ward 6 have also contributed. PN Hoffman gave $5,000 to the transition and $2,500 to the inauguration; Triden Development, gave $500; and developer Elinor Bacon, investor Madison Marquette and planning firm Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn gave $250 each.

In all, 14 firms or individuals gave $5,000 or more, most of them engaged in real estate or construction.

The Gray donor list also includes a few whose interests in a Gray administration transcend business.

Linda D. Rabbitt, chief executive of Washington-based Rand Construction Corp., gave $2,500. She is also chairman of the Federal City Council, a group of regional business leaders that has been a prime supporter of Fenty's education reform efforts. (Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham is active in the group.) Carol Thompson Cole, a former city administrator who is now chief executive of Venture Philanthropy Partners - a nonprofit venture with strong ties to Fenty's school reforms - gave $500.

Gray reported total transition expenses of $25,331, with $10,000 in consulting fees going to Citadel Partners, a firm belonging to aide Reuben O. Charles II. The transition fund also paid $6,250 to an investigations firm, Capitol Inquiry, to handle "personnel recruiting." Other expenses were for office supplies and photographs.

The financial disclosure comes as Gray is battling the perception that his transition is plodding with only a month until taking office. No appointees to his administration have been named, and Gray, the D.C. Council chairman, has been occupied with council business in recent days.

The records were made public hours after Gray gaveled to a close a 14-hour council hearing on closing a $188 million budget gap in the current fiscal year.

"During this difficult period," Gray said in a statement, "I am committed to making all efforts to significantly reduce transition costs and to raise private dollars for this purpose."

Gray announced Tuesday that individuals and groups, such as corporations and labor unions, are limited to donations of $5,000 for the transition and $50,000 for the inauguration, which includes a ball Jan. 2. Gray initially announced that the donations to the inauguration would be capped at $25,000.

Under city law, individual and corporate contributions to mayoral election campaigns are capped at $2,000.

As mayor-elect in 2006, Fenty (D) accepted $250,000 in public money for the transition; Gray, as chairman-elect, accepted $150,000. Neither transition used the entire amount.

Fenty, capping donations at $25,000, raised more than $600,000 for the inaugural ball, which was free to the public and drew about 15,000 guests to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Gray has not yet detailed his inauguration plans.

The transition was not expected to release a report until mid-December, but government watchdogs and media have been complaining about a lack of transparency. According to a news release, another report will be issued at the end of December.

Council Chairman-elect Kwame R. Brown (D) announced that he would also raise private money in lieu of accepting public transition funding. But Brown does not plan to release the names of contributors to his transition team's operations or detail his expenses until after the inauguration.

"It doesn't make sense to submit a partial list now," said Traci Hughes, a spokeswoman for Brown's team. "We're voluntarily releasing the information even though we're not obligated to, and it's just more efficient for the Brown transition to release the complete list at the end."

Staff writers Ann E. Marimow and Nikita Stewart contributed to this report.

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