Mayor Marion Barry reported yesterday that his constituent service fund has raised $19,290 since Jan. 1, primarily through two closed-door fundraisers. Most of the money has been spent on public opinion surveys, according to Barry aides.
Dwight S. Cropp, executive secretary of the District government and chairman of the fund, said yesterday that the most recent survey -- conducted "within the past two months" -- gauged "the mayor's performance, whether he was performing strongly or weakly and what should be done."
City law permits the mayor and members of the City Council to have constituent service funds, but all contributions and expenditures must be reported regularly to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics.
The funds are ostensibly non-political. Cropp said that he did not consider the survey taken by Barry a political poll. But he added, "When you come down to it, any survey could be called a political poll."
Barry reported to the elections board that through yesterday the fund has received contributions averaging $66 from 291 individuals.
Patricia A. Seldon, the mayor's personal secretary who doubles as secretary-treasurer of the fund, said the entire $19,290 was raised at two affairs. Reporters were strictly forbidden from attending the events unless they agreed to contribute to the fund by paying admission.
The first was a $100-a-person party Jan. 11 at the Georgetownn home of Sam Pardoe, the brother of a local hotel owner. At least $1,200 of the total $14,000 raised at the affair was contributed by persons connected with the hotel industry, according to records from the event.
Six days later, Barry announced a reversal of his previous policy on hotel expansion, going on record in support of allowing some hotels to expand in residential areas even if it meant that nearby residents would lose their homes. Spokesman for Barry said there was no connection between the fundraiser and the policy change.
The second affair was a birthday party for the mayor March 14 at Club La Serre in Georgetown. More than 200 persons paid $25 each to attend the fundraiser, according to several persons who attended.
Barry reported that to date, $11,962 has been spent. Kwame Holman, the mayor's spokesman, said more than half that amount was spent on the opinion surveys.
The rest was contributed to various organizations, Holman said. Among them were the National Student Fund, a Washington-based operation that helps send black students to private schools in the city, the D.C. Special Olympics, and the Cardoza High School Marching Band, which is trying to raise money for a trip next year to the Rose Bowl parade.
Shortly after being inaugurated as mayor last year, Barry angered students at the Northwest Washington high school by telling a church audience that there was so much noise and drug use in the hallways of Cardozo that it was difficult for students to learn.
Seldom said she was not sure who conducted the opinion surveys or what their findings were. "I just pay the bills," she said. The most recent opinion survey expenditure was requested by Ivanhoe Donaldson, Barry's general assistant and chief politcal advisor. Donaldson could not be reached for comment last night.
"We administer (the fund) in terms of making sure the reports are done and they're submitted, and that the funds are disseminated according to guidelines," Cropp said. "But it's the mayor's fund. He handles it."
The mayor's press office released word of the filing of the fund's finance report early last night. Cropp said the report was completed Thursday, but Seldom said she did not complete her work on the document and file it until about 4 p.m. yesterday.