Deep inside Republican Mark Kelly’s campaign contribution list was a curious line, indicating that “Denis J. O’Connell High School” gave $350 on March 15 to the candidate for the Arlington County Board.
But, as the Arlnow.com blog first pointed out, it is unusual and possibly unprecedented for a school to make a political donation.
Exactly a year earlier, the county board, made up of all Democrats, had rejected a plan to let the school add lights to its athletic fields.
It’s not a violation of state campaign finance law for a private school to give money, and there’s nothing wrong with Kelly accepting it. But it could be a violation of the IRS rules for a school like Bishop O’Connell, which holds a 501(c)3 tax-exempt status, to get involved in political campaigns.
So how did this happen?
Michael J. Donohue, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, said in a statement Monday: “The Diocese learned today that a member of the staff of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington County recently used a school check for the sake of convenience to purchase a set of tickets to a political fundraiser for a candidate for local office. This was a significant error in judgment on the part of the school employee as well as a clear violation of diocesan policy. Though all of the $350 in school funds were reimbursed by the employee, Chancery and school officials are presently reviewing the matter, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.”