On July 5, Ulysses "Blackie" Auger, a Washington real estate and restaurant magnate, sat down and wrote out a $1,500 check to Democrat John A. Wilson's campaign for D.C. Council chairman. Then he wrote another, and another and another.

By the time Auger was finished, he had written checks totaling $12,500 to Wilson's campaign.

Under D.C. law, an individual is forbidden to contribute more than $1,500 to any one candidate in the chairman's race, but Auger found a way around that: He wrote one check against the account of a business called Italy/USA, another through a real estate partnership called Ward Place Associates and seven others through business entities he owns or controls.

Unlike federal campaign finance law, the District law treats corporations and partnerships the same as individuals for the purposes of contribution limits.

Thus, a developer such as Auger who establishes a company or partnership for literally dozens of business deals may use each of those entities to contribute the maximum amount to a candidate -- $1,500 for council chairman and $2,000 for mayoral candidates.

Auger says that there's "nothing unusual" about what he does and that, frankly, he doesn't give a lot of thought to how he contributes to political candidates.

"I don't have any reasons," he said. "I just give every year. That's the way I do things."

Wilson, a council member from Ward 2, Mayor Marion Barry and mayoral candidate John Ray (D-At Large) have been major beneficiaries of "bundled" corporate and partnership contributions, according to a computer analysis of D.C. campaign finance and corporate records.

The practice has begun to draw sharp criticism from some council members and advocates of government overhaul, who say it violates the spirit of the D.C. campaign finance laws, which were adopted in 1974 in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.

Critics say the loophole enables special interests seeking to influence government to hide behind a corporate veil while skirting the limits placed on individual contributions.

"It really makes a mockery of contribution limits," said Peter M. Williams, executive director of D.C. Common Cause. "In effect, they don't exist for people who can make these kinds of arrangements."

Even some major fund-raisers who have taken advantage of the bundling loophole have expressed reservations about the practice.

"While the law is in existence, you can't expect candidates to ignore it," said Max N. Berry, a former fund-raiser for Barry who is chairman of Wilson's campaign.

"But I don't think it is right," Berry added. "The problem is one of potential undue influence, and the way to change it is to amend the law."

More than one out of every three dollars contributed to D.C. Council or mayoral candidates this year came from groups whose owners' or principals' names do not appear in city financial disclosure records.

Five real estate partnerships controlled by Richard A. Bennett Jr., a lawyer and sports agent, contributed $1,800 each to Barry's now-abandoned reelection campaign, according to a review of corporate records. An additional four entities listing the same address gave another $2,400, but their corporate records could not be located.

Bennett is part of a group that recently was awarded a controversial $216 million lease for temporary offices for the mayor and council members while the District Building undergoes extensive renovations beginning next year.

Bennett could not be reached for comment.

Council member William Lightfoot (I-At Large) introduced a bill Tuesday that would require candidates to disclose the names of the members of partnerships that contribute to their political campaigns and allocate contributions according to ownership interest.

For example, if a partnership owned by four persons gave $2,000 to a candidate, each person would be "charged" with a $500 contribution that goes against the individual limit for the person.

"The public has a right to know the names of the people making campaign contributions," Lightfoot said. "The current law allows secrecy, and it allows people to evade the campaign limits."

Wilson said that while he supports changing the system, he is opposed to targeting developers. He noted that Lightfoot, a lawyer, receives contributions from trial lawyers.

"Mr. Lightfoot ought to look at his own support," Wilson said. "Nobody is clean when it comes to that particular question."

If enacted, Lightfoot's bill would not affect this year's campaigns, which are shaping up as among the most expensive in city history. The leading fund-raisers have been Wilson, who has raised about $475,000 for his council chairman's race, and Ray, who has raised $689,000 for his mayoral campaign.

Barry, who announced Wednesday he will not seek a fourth term, raised about $250,000, most coming before his Jan. 18 drug arrest. A substantial part of those funds were bundled contributions.

Marianne Coleman Niles, director of the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, said there is nothing she can do to discourage the practice of bundling, although her office conducts audits of campaign reports to determine whether partnerships making contributions are "bona fide or shams."

But Niles said that her office is understaffed and that violations can slip through unless they are brought to her attention.

On Jan. 12, one of Auger's companies, Guld Inc., issued a check for $2,000 for Barry's reelection campaign, according to campaign finance reports. Yet the firm's corporate records at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs show that the firm went out of business the month before.

Anita Bonds, Barry's top political adviser, said the campaign has no way of verifying whether business entities that contribute are legitimate.

Auger said he believed the check to Barry was one of the last his company wrote before closing down in December. "I write a million checks," he said.

The biggest givers this year are members of a family of suburban Maryland developers who often do business with one another in the District -- brothers Richard S. Cohen and Ronald J. Cohen and their brother-in-law, Joel Meisel. Taken together, the trio appears to account for at least $56,500 in campaign contributions, with most of that money going to Ray and Barry.

According to campaign finance records, Ray received $8,000 Aug. 4 from partnerships located at Meisel's headquarters at 6000 Executive Blvd. in Rockville, and $11,500 more Jan. 26 from another set of partnerships at the same address.

Records for all of the partnerships from that address could not be located. However, records for 11 partnerships that were found, including 6500 Chillum Associates and 2131 K Associates, show that one of the Cohens or Meisel controls or owns the entities. One partnership that gave $1,000 apiece to Ray and Barry is controlled by Richard Cohen and Auger.

Also on Aug. 4, Ray received five contributions totaling $5,000 from five partnerships listing a 7811 Montrose Rd., Potomac, address -- the same address as Richard Cohen's offices. On Jan. 26, Ray received seven $2,000 contributions from companies or partnerships at 6500 Rock Springs Dr. in Bethesda.

Records of four of those seven partnerships are on file with the city. The four partnerships are controlled by Ronald Cohen. Some partnerships are not required to file records in the District.

Neither the Cohens nor Meisel could be reached for comment. Ray said he has "known all three of them for a long time" and described Meisel as a "longtime friend" who "is basically the one who does the fund-raising for me."

He said he doesn't know the motives behind the contributions and that his performance has not been influenced by them.

"I have the best record on development" of any mayoral candidate, he said. "I supported every community opposing development."

The Cohens, whose building projects in the District include offices at 1275 Pennsylvania Ave. NW and 1722 I St. NW, are among a few executives with business interests in the District who have contributed heavily to local campaigns this year:

Eight partnerships listing an address of 1725 Desales St. NW, headquarters of developer and parking lot owner Dominic F. Antonelli Jr., each gave $2,000 to Barry's mayoral campaign on Dec. 20. Another group of partnerships at the same address gave $16,500 to Wilson's campaign. Many of the partnerships list Antonelli as a principal.

Antonelli was a onetime business partner of William Cohen's, father of Richard and Ronald. The two families, with other parties, still own a sizable piece of the Mayflower Hotel.

Four companies and a political action committee associated with Delaware North Cos. in Buffalo, an international firm, contributed $2,000 each to the mayoral campaign of council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4).

A subsidiary of Delaware North has a $3 million a year contract to provide food service at the Washington Convention Center. Another company has been chosen by the Convention Center board as a replacement, but the selection must be approved later this summer by the council's Housing and Economic Development Committee, which Jarvis heads.

"We give contributions on the basis of what we think is going to be good for our business -- in terms of the general climate for our business," said Samuel L. Gifford, vice president of the Delaware North. "We perceive that {Jarvis} would be better for our business than her opponents."

Ray received $16,600 from members and companies associated with the Calomiris family, longtime builders and developers in the Washington area.

Entities owned by downtown developer Robert I. Kling gave $13,500 to Wilson's campaign last year, including two $1,500 contributions from trusts for two family members.

Research assistants Bridget R. Roeber and Sharon Warden contributed to this report.

Checks dated 8/04/89:

Listed Contributor................Candidate........Amount

Mass & Goldsboro Accountants......John Ray.........$1,000

Post Office Box Associates........John Ray..........1,000

Seventeen-22 Eye St.

Associates Ltd. Partnership........John Ray.........1,000

Seventeen-52 N Associates..........John Ray........1,000

Twenty-One-31 K Associates.........John Ray........1,000

Vermont Associates.................John Ray........1,000

Pennsylvania Building Associates...John Ray........1,000

Fifty-Five-O-One Connecticut Ave.

Associates.........................John Ray........1,000

Five-O-One School Associates

Ltd. Partnership...................John Ray........1,000

Fourteen-20 U Associates.......... John Ray........1,000

Checks dated 1/26/89:

Listed Contributor................Candidate........Amount

Ninth & Eye Associates............John Ray........$2,000

Northeast Market Associates.......John Ray........1,000

Willco Associates.................John Ray........2,000

Sixty-Five Hundred Chillum

Associates........................John Ray..........500

Wildwood Development Corp.........John Ray........2,000

Two Hundred K Ltd. Partnership....John Ray........2,000

Marcheta Investors................John Ray........2,000

Randolph Associates...............John Ray........2,000

Seventeen-14 Mass Associates......John Ray........2,000

Checks dated 12/20/89:

Listed Contributor................Candidate........Amount

Jerritt Associates Ltd.

Partnership.......................Marion Barry.....$1,000

Vermont Associates................Marion Barry........1,000

Penn Building Associates......... Marion Barry........1,000

Post Office Box Associates........Marion Barry........1,000

Benville Ltd. Partnership.........Marion Barry........1,000

Lot 815 Ltd. Partnership..........Marion Barry........1,000

Square 3942 Associates Ltd.

Partnership.......................Marion Barry........1,000

501 School Associates Ltd.

Partnership.......................Marion Barry........1,000

1255 22nd St. Ltd. Partnership....Marion Barry........1,000

1420 U Associates Partnership.....Marion Barry........1,000

1722 Eye St. Associates Ltd.

Partnership...................... Marion Barry........1,000

2131 K Associates.................Marion Barry........1,000

The Augur Connection:

On July 5, 1989, partnerships owned or controlled by restaurateur and developer Ulysses "Blackie" Augur donated a total of $12,500 to the campaign of John Wilson, Democratic candidate for D.C. Council chairman.

On Jan. 12, Augur partnerships issued three checks -- each for $2,000, the maximum allowed by law -- to the reelection campaign of Mayor Marion Barry. The following is a list of the Augur partnerships that contributed to the Wilson and Barry campaigns.

Checks dated 7/05/89:

Listed Contributor...............Candidate........Amount

Italy/USA........................John Wilson........$1,500

Auger Security...................John Wilson........1,500

The Auger Group..................John Wilson........1,500

Embassy Suites...................John Wilson........1,500

Carlyle House....................John Wilson........1,500

Baltimore-Washington Marriott....John Wilson........1,500

Ward Place Associates............John Wilson......... 500

Auger & Auger Associates

Marriott Hotel...................John Wilson........1,500

U.S. Hotel Associates............John Wilson........1,500

Checks dated 1/12/90:

Listed Contributor...............Candidate........Amount

Guld Inc.........................Marion Barry........$2,000

U.S. Hotel Associates............Marion Barry........2,000

U.S. Penn Hotel Associates.......Marion Barry........2,000