D.C. City Council member and mayoral candidate John Ray (D-At Large) asked the city's Office of Campaign Finance yesterday to investigate what he called possibly illegal contributions from the American Federation of Government Employees to Mayor Marion Barry's reelection campaign.
Ray asked Lindell Tinsley, acting director of the Office of Campaign Finance, to review AFGE's payment of salaries to three union employes who have done work for Barry's campaign.
"Serious questions have been raised about the extent of the American Federation of Government Employees' contributions to Mayor Barry's reelection campaign," Ray wrote to Tinsley yesterday. "I am requesting that your office investigate this matter promptly to determine whether the law has been violated and to assure full compliance."
Tinsley said yesterday that before Ray's request arrived he had begun a preliminary investigation into the relationship between the three union employes and the Barry campaign, and had made inquires to the Barry campaign about the matter. Tinsley said he is waiting for a response to those inquiries before deciding whether to proceed with a full investigation.
Under city law, no person or group can give a mayoral candidate cash or in-kind contributions valued at more than $2,000. The salaries of the three employes total more than $2,000, and Ray questioned whether the union's payment of the salaries would constitute a violation of the law.
If the union is found to have violated the legal limit on campaign contributions, Tinsley said, it would be subject to a fine.
Ivanhoe Donaldson, Barry's campaign manager, could not be reached for comment.
Mary Jackseit, a lawyer for AFGE, said the union would have no comment on Ray's request.
Ray's letter was accompanied by internal union documents showing that the AFGE's attorney, Donald M. Haines, identified three situations in which the union employes' activities constitute "in-kind" contributions.
Those situations involve Bernard Demczuk, the union's legislative representative; Jane Danowitz, a temporary political organizer who, according to the union description of her job, works under Donaldson's instructions, and a union employe who arranged a breakfast fund-raiser for the Barry campaign.
Haines did not say how much AFGE-paid time the employes had devoted to the campaign or what the time would be worth.
Demczuk said yesterday he is paid $29,000 a year by the union and said he has been working in the Barry campaign headquarters for several months. However, he said he has been working on his own time before 9 a.m., on his lunch hour and after 5 p.m. for Barry.
In addition, he said he has compensatory time due from the union and has been taking four hours of it a day recently to work for the campaign.
Earlier this week, the Federal Merit Systems Protection Board confirmed that it was looking into allegations that some D.C. employes, including members of the AFGE, may have violated the Hatch Act by working for Barry's campaign.