D.C. officials on Wednesday dismissed a campaign finance complaint against Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) for an rally in which she promoted a candidate in a heated council race.
The government watchdog group Public Citizen alleged the mayor’s Oct. 14 rally was an illegal in-kind contribution to the candidates she endorsed and asked the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance to investigate.
But the agency said Public Citizen presented insufficient proof and dismissed the complaint in an order issued Wednesday.
Bowser’s get-out-the-vote rally featured council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large) and Dionne Reeder, who is seeking to unseat council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) in the most competitive contest of the election.
The order said the mayor’s endorsement of a candidate isn’t an improper in-kind contribution.
“To establish that the Bonds and Reeder campaigns received in-kind contributions by appearing at the Re-elect Bowser GOTV [get out the vote] event it would require evidence that the campaigns received goods, services, property or some tangible benefit from the Re-elect Bowser Campaign,” wrote William Sanford, the agency’s general counsel. “In the absence of such evidence the complaint does not meet the burden of proof.”
The mayor’s reelection campaign had dismissed the complaint as an attempt by Silverman to go negative late in the campaign.
Public Citizen acknowledged that Silverman brought the rally to its attention, but said the group’s complaint wasn’t politically motivated. The group previously filed a complaint against the mayor for accepting excess contributions in her 2014 run.
Bowser faces nominal competition next Tuesday and is expected to be the first Washington mayor to win reelection since 2002.