The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance yesterday questioned mayoral candidate Morris Harper, who claims to have raised $131,500 in contributions, after six of the listed contributors told The Washington Post last weekend they neither pledged nor gave the amounts attributed to them.
Lindell Tinsley, acting director of the campaign finance office, said the story in The Post raised "serious allegations," which, if proved, could result in civil and criminal penalties. He emphasized, however, that neither he nor the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics has recommended that a formal investigation be undertaken.
"The public has the right to receive accurate information with respect to the amount of money candidates are raising and spending on behalf of their campaigns," Tinsley said. "If it's an accounting problem, that's something we're willing to look at. If it's something intentional, that's very serious."
Harper, 34, a physician who is seeking the Democratic mayoral nomination, voluntarily appeared in Tinsley's office yesterday afternoon, accompanied by an attorney, to discuss the article.
Later, a Harper aide released a statement saying that Harper had been "assured that there are no charges and no investigation pending against our campaign committee or the candidate" stemming from The Post's article.
"We thus consider the matter closed and hope we can now get to the real point of this campaign -- the issues facing the city of Washington and how they can best be met," the statement said.
Tinsley could not be reached to comment on his meeting with Harper.
Meanwhile, three more persons said yesterday they had been incorrectly listed as major contributors in a financial disclosure statement that Harper's committee filed last Thursday.
Frank Salter, an assistant U.S. attorney in Birmingham, Ala., who attended Howard University with Harper, said yesterday he neither contributed nor pledged the $2,000 for which he was listed.
Salter said he told Harper around May 25 that he would give some thought to contributing, but that later he sent word that he could not afford it. He said he called Harper last Thursday to remind him he was not contributing, but still he was listed on Harper's financial statement as having given $2,000 on May 11.
Also yesterday, Linwood Haith, a Philadelphia physician, and his wife, attorney Mae Haith, denied they had contributed or pledged a total of $4,000 to Harper's campaign, as they were listed.
Harper became friends with the Haiths while he was a student at Howard and Harvard, Mae Haith said.
The little-known Harper's long-shot campaign for the Democratic nomination received little attention until last week, when he reported having raised $131,500 since January.
Harper's campaign treasurer acknowledged last Saturday that only $56,000 actully was received and that the remainder reported was pledged.
Harper said yesterday that The Post story was incomplete because the reporter who wrote the story did not ask people listed as contributors if they had made pledges to donate money or promised to recruit donors in addition to asking if they had actually given money to his campaign.