Last year, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) was showered with gifts from as far away as Belgrade, Istanbul, Peru and Paris.
In addition to the plaques, books, framed art and a Tiffany crystal award from the Adoption Hall of Fame, the mayor also reported a financial relationship with a company much closer to home.
The mayor now owns stock in Fannie Mae worth more than $5,000, according to his 2003 financial disclosure form filed last month with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance.
Tony Bullock, the mayor's spokesman, said Williams inherited the stock from a relative who recently died. Bullock said the mayor is not required to identify the relative or disclose the exact amount of stock that he has received.
"He doesn't have to get into the details," Bullock said.
City law requires that elected officials disclose any interest valued at more than $1,000 with any entity that transacts business with the District government. They must also list investments that include any corporate stock that is registered and traded on a national exchange and valued at more than $5,000.
The stock with Fannie Mae is the only investment that the mayor listed, although Bullock said the mayor has other stock in his portfolio.
As far as why the mayor listed Fannie Mae, Bullock said the disclosure may not have even been required by city guidelines.
"It's a bit of a judgment call," Bullock said. "They have some relationships with the District; I don't know that they're contractors," Bullock said. "Fannie Mae doesn't furnish the District with services. If anything, they are a contributor."
But the mayor's connections to Fannie Mae run deep.
In 1999, the mayor and Fannie Mae Chairman Franklin D. Raines unveiled a $1 billion initiative to increase homeownership among first-time homebuyers. Fannie Mae also gave $25,000 to the mayor's 2002 inauguration committee, and Raines was a major contributor to the mayor's 2002 campaign.
Cecily E. Collier-Montgomery, executive director of the city's campaign finance office, said the mayor took the proper step in disclosing the stock. She said the disclosures of all public officials are referred to her office's audit division for further evaluation.
Vote Plan Opposed
Voting rights activist Timothy Cooper, executive director of Democracy First, led an unsuccessful push to defeat a D.C. Council resolution Tuesday that endorsed a congressional proposal to give the District a voting member in the U.S. House of Representatives but not in the Senate.
Activists said the bid by Northern Virginia Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) to limit the District's representation to the House could undermine the city's quest for full congressional representation and prolong its unequal political status.
A human rights commission affiliated with the Organization of American States ruled in December that the United States violates the rights of District residents by denying them representation in Congress. The case had been pursued for 11 years by Cooper and 22 others.
"We are most troubled by the fact that D.C. City Council members will be endorsing a bill that will have the effect of creating a political situation in violation of international human rights law," stated a letter to council members signed by Cooper and others.
The letter was also signed by two of the District's locally elected statehood lobbyists, "shadow" U.S. senators Paul Strauss and Florence H. Pendleton, political commentator Acie Byrd and two leaders of the Stand Up! for Democracy in DC Coalition: president Anise Jenkins and secretary Karen A. Szulgit.
The activists wrote that the council unanimously endorsed the commission's finding in March, adding, "We find the inconsistency of your position to be of serious concern."
The letter had limited effect. Council members approved the resolution 11 to 2, with Members Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) dissenting.
The legislation endorses representation in either the U.S. House or Senate as a "way station" to full voting rights, defined as one representative and two senators.
The resolution reaffirmed council support of a bill by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) that would either grant full voting representation to the District or else exempt District residents from paying federal income tax.
Davis proposes expanding the House by two, to 437 representatives, to seat a voting member from the District and another member from Utah, whose delegation was next in line to gain a member after the 2000 U.S. Census and reapportionment. A House hearing is scheduled for June 23 on District voting representation in Congress.
Council Backs Browne
Shadow representative Ray Browne (D), an unpaid elected statehood lobbyist, has been endorsed for a third term by 12 council members, with only Republican Carol Schwartz (At-large) withholding her nod.
"It is gratifying that so many of the members of the D.C. Council have endorsed us for reelection, because no one is more aware of our work in support of voting representation in Congress," Browne said.