Letter From 18 Groups and Leaders to D.C. Mayor Bowser

Groups Urge Full Funding of D.C.'s Pay-to-Play Law

March 5, 2020

Mayor Muriel Bowser
1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20004

Dear Mayor Bowser:

We urge you to allocate funding for the Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2018 in your FY2021 budget so that this critical good government law can take effect as scheduled in November 2020.

The District has been buffeted in recent years by pay-to-play scandals involving elected officials – the latest being former Councilmember Jack Evans. In recognition that we need much stronger ethics laws in the District, the Council passed the Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act in 2018, with 11 Councilmembers voting for the bill. A key provision of the law limits political contributions from District contractors to elected officials who have sway over the contracting process.

The potential for contractors to corrupt elected officials via campaign donations is well recognized nationwide. It’s why the federal government and 15 states and dozens of cities have prohibited such contributions. The record of actual and perceived corruption when government contractors make campaign contributions to those responsible for awarding the contracts is so deep that even those courts opposed to campaign finance reform routinely uphold the constitutionality of pay-to-play laws.

The District’s new law is strong. But it won’t be effective unless it is enforced, and that requires investment in the infrastructure and personnel as outlined in the fiscal impact statement that accompanied the legislation.

It is estimated that it will take about $1.4 million in FY2020 to implement the law and $1.2 million in FY2021.

Eliminating the pipeline between city contractors and the coffers of D.C. candidates and elected officials will go a long way toward cleaning up the corruption that keeps rearing its head in the District.

We call on you to show strong leadership and take a stand in the wake of the Evans scandal by allocating this critical funding in the FY2021 budget to accomplish this.

Sincerely,

Robert Weissman – President, Public Citizen
Phil Thomas – Chair, Ward 3 Democratic Committee
Jeremiah Lowery – Chair, DC for Democracy
Makia Green – Working Families Party
Shelley Tomkin – Ward 3 Democratic Committee
Claire Cook – ONE DC
UNITE HERE Local 25
Baltimore Washington Laborers’ District Council, LiUNA
Ricardo Campos – Political Director, SEIU 32BJ
Debby Shore – Ward 3 Democratic Committee
Dyana Forester – UFCW Local 400
Kathy P. Chiron – President, League of Women Voters DC
Jews United for Justice
Karen Zuckerstein – Ward 3 Democratic Committee
Elizabeth Mitchell – DC Democratic State Committee
Mark Andersen – We Are Family Senior Outreach Network
Rev. William H. Lamar IV – Metropolitan AME Church
SEIU Local 500