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Group Aims to Ban Donations from Corporations to DC Candidates

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

A group called D.C. Public Trust is trying to place the measure Ballot Initiative 70 on the November 6 ballot; this measure would ban direct donations from corporations to candidates for DC office.

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Ballot Initiative 70 would ban corporate campaign contributions to DC candidates. (Luis Gomez Photos)

If successful, the proposal would put DC in line with federal law, forbidding contributions from corporate interest groups to public officials and candidates. More than 20 other states have similar laws banning this type of contribution. However, even if the initiative makes to the ballot and passes, it would still be overturned by the DC Council. The Council overturned an voter initiative to impose term limits last decade.

According to the group, “This initiative, if passed, would prohibit corporations and other business entities from making direct contributions to principal campaign committees, exploratory committees, legal defense committees organized in support of public officials, transition committees, inaugural committees, or constituent-service programs.”

This new measure would stand in direct contrast to the current state of affairs. Currently, DC law allows corporations with city contracts to make direct contributions to the elected officials, creating major conflicts of interest and, as many critics note, a “pay to play” culture in the District.

To make Ballot Initiative 70 law, DC Public Trust needs to collect at least 23,000 signatures by July 9. If you support the measure, sign up online or make a donation.

Bryan Weaver is one of the leaders of the initiative; he filed the paperwork on the initiative. A Ward 1 resident, he ran in the 2010 Democratic Primary against Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1). Weaver was also a candidate in the 2011 special election to the fill the At-Large Council seat that was won by Vincent Orange. The chair of the group is Sylvia Brown of Ward 7 who is the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for ANC 7C-04.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 65 posts on Borderstan.

Alden covers local government and arts topics for Borderstan. He grew up all over the place (visited all 50 states!) but calls the District home and, as such, is a politics junkie and D.C. enthusiast. He advocates for good causes by day and is an artist and arts supporter by night. He’s also a DJ of questionable taste and ability. Contact him at alden@borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter. Check out his paintings at www.aldenleonard.com.

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One Response to “Group Aims to Ban Donations from Corporations to DC Candidates”

  1. Peter Berry says:

    I will not support the initiative until the organizers can answer some very basic questions, questions they are either ignoring (along with the press) or simply choose not to answer. I tend to believe the latter. In any case:

    1) How would this law stand up again Citizens United?
    2) Is there support on the Hill for this (they have to approve it, remember)?
    3) Why are unions left out? They are big donors, as well as major bundlers.
    4) Any thought as to what this will do to the current system (ie unintended consequences)? Corporations in DC will find a way to donate, I believe. I would hate to see PACs invade the city.

    Peter

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