The chairman of the D.C. Republican Party has blasted a bill introduced in the City Council that would allow residents to contribute $1 of their income tax refunds to the political party of their choice as a "slick way" for Democrats to solve their fund-raising problems.
Of the District's 260,726 registered voters, 210,168 are Democrats and 20,910 are Republicans. Ann F. Heuer, chairman of the D.C. Republican Committee, contended in a statement released this week that the bill was "one more attempt by the Democratic machine to increase its stranglehold on District politics" and would hamper the growth of minority parties here.
Under the proposal, introduced by council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), each taxpayer would be allowed to designate $1 of his or her tax refund to a political party. A political party fund would be established within the District government's general fund and the mayor would regulate and distribute money from the fund.
Heuer said she is opposed to allowing Mayor Marion Barry to control the fund, in light of the controversy over his administration's handling of the Bates Street housing project and its awarding of contracts to consultants. "He is one particular fox I do not want guarding the chicken coop," Heuer said.
Barry could not be reached for comment.
James Christian, chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, said he understood why Republicans would be concerned about the potential impact of the proposed legislation, but said that Heuer's comments were out of line.
"The comment is absolutely outrageous and it impugns the integrity and the commitment to democratic ideals of the elected officials who sponsored it and all those who would want to increase the ways in which the electorate can participate in our democratic process," said Christian. "We should be fostering support for participatory democracy rather than engaging in unseemly mudslinging and gutter politics."
Wilson, chairman of the council's finance committee, could not be reached for comment. An aide to Wilson said the bill is not viewed as a partisan issue because each taxpayer would decide for himself which party would receive the $1 contribution.
A public hearing on the bill will be held 9 a.m. Monday in Room 114 of the District Building.