D.C. Mayor Gray raises $670,000 for inauguration, transition

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 13, 2011; 10:41 PM

Mayor Vincent C. Gray has raised nearly $670,000 to pay for his inauguration, inaugural ball and transition, but he is still about $150,000 short, according to transition officials and documents.

Gray's transition team has reported spending more than $800,000 on inaugural events and the months-long transition, including the cost of temporary employees and air travel for people seeking positions in the new administration.

The administration did not provide an itemized list of expenditures but made available the names of confirmed donors, including regional companies and organizations and individuals contributing from $5 to $25,000.

According to documents provided to The Washington Post, the biggest donors - contributing $25,000 each - included Calvin Cafritz Investments, developer Franklin Haney Jr., real estate company Co Star, electric utility Pepco and Howard University. Other contributors included philanthropist Katherine Bradley, who was co-chairman of the education committee on Gray's transition team; Georgetown University; the Safeway supermarket chain; and Gerald Lang, husband of Barbara Lang, who is the D.C. Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive.

"You had a lot of people who wanted to contribute to this new sense of optimism," said Linda Wharton-Boyd, Gray's spokeswoman.

The donations totaled $669,860, and the Gray transition team director, Reuben O. Charles, said the fundraising efforts will continue for up to 30 days.

The Jan. 2 inauguration and swanky ball were held at the Walter E. Washington Convention center, where many contributors were seated at VIP tables in a roped-off area of the ballroom.

The event was free to the public, and residents had clamored for tickets. The ball was attended by nearly 11,000 guests, and it featured performances by Grammy-nominated artists Chuck Brown and Raheem DeVaughn, 35 hors d'oeuvres buffets and 60 cash bars.

The soiree for Gray (D) was similar in size and spirit to that held by his predecessor, Adrian M. Fenty (D), whose inaugural celebration drew about 15,000 guests. The former mayor raised more than $610,000 for his 2007 swearing-in and gala, which were also free.

Anthony A. Williams threw a free-of-charge ball in 2003 to kick off his second term as mayor, but the celebration was on a smaller scale, with 3,000 guests. Before Williams, D.C. mayors generally charged admission for their inaugural parties.

One of the biggest expenses for Gray's ball was intended to correct a major complaint about Fenty's ball: the lack of carpet, Wharton-Boyd and Charles said.

Carpeting strategic areas of the 473,000-square-foot space cost more than $100,000, Charles said. He also said the $27,000 cost of the entertainment was "heavily discounted."

Gray declined to accept city funds for his transition, breaking with the past practice of mayors-elect. He cited the city's projected $440 million budget shortfall next year. He said he would make public information about fundraising for the inauguration and transition, but he was criticized for collecting unregulated funds.

His transition set up two organizations to raise money to cover the costs of the inauguration and transition. But the document provided to The Post was labeled "DC One City Fund Contributions," and donations were listed as either for the inauguration or transition.

Charles said the transition costs ranged from $30,000 to $35,000 a month, including travel expenses for job candidates. Under emergency D.C. Council legislation in November, the transition team received free space in the Reeves Center and the use of city-owned vehicles and furniture, which greatly reduced costs.

The Gray transition team also depended on volunteers, including interns from Howard and American universities, Charles said.

Howard University has a "long history of collaboration" with the city, including the revitalization of LeDroit Park and the operation of a public charter school, the Middle School of Mathematics and Science, the university said in a statement.

"As a neighbor and partner, we were honored to symbolize our support of the District of Columbia through our contribution to the inauguration," university spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton said.

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