D.C. Democratic mayoral candidate Sterling Tucker, who said he would not accept corporate contributions for his campaign when he announced his candidacy, has collected several such donations, according to the companies that gave him the money.
Tucker's latest campaign finance report, filed last Thursday with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, listed numerous contributions from corporations that had sent their donations through a political action committee created by the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade.
Corporate contributions and donations funneled through political action committees are legal in the District of Columbia. But Tucker said he did not want to accept contributions from corporate and union treasuries because "a campaign ought to be identified with people and issues, and not with organizations and corporations and unions as such.
"When you accept money from the political action arms you are generally accepting money from (Funds) that have been raised specifically for that purpose. So you're not accepting from the board of directors," Tucker said as he announced his intention to run for mayor last January.
Officials and spokesmen for the Shannon & Luchs Co. realty firm, the Washington D.C. Area Trucking Association Inc., the Potomac Electric Power Co. and the Woodward & Lothrop department store chain all said Friday that the contributions to Tucker's campaign were composed of corporate funds, even tough they had been channeled through the Board of Trade's political action arm. Shannon & Luchs and the trucking trade group gave Tucker $1,000, while Woodies and Pepco contributed $2,000 each.
"It wasn't a special assessment," said John F. Grimm, president of the truckers' group. "We took it out of the general fund."
Grimm said that when Tucker spoke to the truckers' group at a luncheon he told Grimm that he did not accept corporate contributions, but would accept a donation from a politcal action committee.
"I don't see any difference," Grimm said.
Tucker's two principal rivals in the Sept. 12 party primary, Mayor Walter E. Washington and council member Marion Barry, both have accepted union and corporate contributions and listed them as such on their campaign finance reports.
Tucker could not be reached for comment, but his campaign manager, Gerald Wallette, maintained that Tucker was not accepting corporate contributions because the money had come from a political action committee (PAC).
"There is a real and substantive difference, the way I choose to view it," Wallette said. "We've not accepted a check from ABC Inc., but through legally constituted PACs."
A campaign spokesman said later that the Tucker campaign has no intention of returning any money that may have come from corporate treasuries. The Tucker campaign reported spending nearly $255,000 as of a week ago yesterday, but has raised only $208,116, a deficit of nearly $47,000.