Attorneys for Citicorp, attempting to "settle the disagreement" involving D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance and the New York banking giant, have agreed to ask Jarvis for repayment of $1,830 in expenses that she incurred.
John Maloney, a Citicorp spokesman, said in a telephone interview yesterday that a June 9 letter mailed to Campaign Finance Office Director Keith A. Vance was an attempt to "come to a meeting of the minds" on whether Jarvis ignored the law when she allowed Citicorp to pay her expenses for two New York trips in 1985 and 1986.
Elected officials in the District are prohibited from accepting gifts of more than $100 in value. Jarvis has said that the Citicorp payments were not gifts and that Vance is intentionally harassing her.
In Citicorp's June 9 letter, attorney Danforth Newcomb agreed to amend the documents that the bank had filed with the city to reflect payments made to Jarvis and Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) for the New York trips.
Danforth added in the letter that Citicorp still believes that the money paid to the elected officials was for fact-finding trips and should not be considered gifts under D.C. campaign finance law.
Vance's office has agreed to have the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics decide whether such an exception exists in city law, as it does in federal law for members of Congress.
"The sense of the letter is to try to settle this disagreement," said Maloney. "Just to settle it."
A spokesman for Vance's office said that Citicorp's action would have the effect of removing the firm from liability for "willfully and knowingly" ignoring campaign finance law.
Jarvis, however, said that Citicorp's decision to accede to Vance's wishes will have no bearing on her position in the matter. She has already repaid $712 of the amount Citicorp originally paid for theater tickets, airfare and a Steuben glass apple.
"Citicorp may wish to acquiesce to the suggestion that they violated the law," said Jarvis. "I do not wish to do so, and will continue my request for review at the Board of Elections and Ethics."
Jarvis has argued that her New York trips were fact-finding missions that had nothing to do with banking legislation that comes before her committee on Housing and Community Development. When Vance requested that she repay the $1,830 in Citicorp-paid expenses, she took her objection to the elections board.
Vance's willingness to request a similar opinion from the board at the request of Citicorp lawyers, Jarvis said yesterday, "may break the impasse on this entire matter."
"Mr. Vance's willingness to take this course of action is an admission of the reasonableness of my position," she said.