D.C. mayoral candidate Walter E. Fauntroy stepped up his offensive against Democratic rival John Ray, summoning reporters to the Northern Virginia offices of one of Ray's major campaign contributors to decry the "out-of-town developers trying to buy the outcome of our election."

"John Ray's been signed, sealed and delivered by the out-of-town developers," Fauntroy said, calling Ray, who is black, the outsiders' "great white hope." The news conference was held outside the offices of Tri-Equity Group Inc., a real estate development firm at 1600 Springhill Rd., near Tysons Corner.

Richard G. Weiser, one of the group's partners, is a principal in eight real estate partnerships that have each contributed $2,000 to Ray's mayoral campaign, according to campaign finance reports.

The partnerships have different names, such as Takoma Park Plaza Associates and Shortpuma Associates L.P., which serve to hide the identity of the owners, Fauntroy said.

"They're not listed with directory assistance," Fauntroy said. "Yet from this one address, unknown and unnamed out-of-town developers are sending John Ray postcards and checks that instruct John Ray to vote against rent control, against low- and moderate-income housing and against the interest of the people who live in D.C."

Margaret Gentry, a Ray spokeswoman, dismissed the attacks, noting that the contributions were "completely legal and fully reported." Gentry questioned the extent of Fauntroy's own financial disclosure. She said that, unlike Ray, Fauntroy failed to disclose the type of business being operated by numerous corporations and partnerships that contributed to his campaign.

For instance, she said, both campaigns listed contributions from a company called IDI Management, but only Ray's report noted that IDI is a real estate developer.

"We are completely open about it," Gentry said. "The uninformed person is going to have no way of knowing that this is a real estate company."

In a separate campaign development, D.C. Council Chairman David A. Clarke (D) was endorsed yesterday by the Greater Washington Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal lobbying group.

Peter Schott, ADA's chairman, said that on issues of importance to ADA, such as rent control, support of gun control laws and civil rights, "Dave Clarke's commitment exceeds that of any other candidate."

Unlike federal law, D.C. campaign finance law permits contributions from corporations and real estate partnerships, thus enabling developers and others to make multiple campaign contributions to mayoral candidates totaling more than the $2,000 limit on individual contributions.

The practice has long been used in D.C. politics, as well as by Fauntroy himself, who accepted thousands of dollars from companies controlled by his campaign manager, Robert L. Johnson.

Fauntroy said yesterday that the practice is unethical and said he would work to change the campaign finance law if elected mayor. But he said the difference between his acceptance of such contributions and Ray's acceptance is that he is "unbossed and unbought" by special interests.

After Fauntroy's news conference, a small group of reporters and television photographers, followed by a smiling Johnson, trooped up to the second floor-offices of Tri-Equity. They encountered Weiser, who initially declined to talk to reporters about the matter.

"I think {Ray} is the best man for the job," Weiser said in a later telephone interview. "I don't know why I was being picked on."