May 31, 2017

Brandon Todd Campaign Fine Highlights Need for Reforms

Statement of Aquene Freechild, Co-Director, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign

Note: The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) concluded that Councilmember Brandon Todd’s election campaign committee violated the Campaign Finance Act by failing to properly report receipts, credit card deposits and expenditures, as well as by misstating financial activity, among other violations. The OCF imposed a relatively paltry $5,100 fine.

The maximum possible fine for losing track of approximately $100,000 in campaign contributions is $5,100? The District of Columbia needs ethics and campaign finance reform now more than ever.

There are excellent reforms before the Council, including small-donor public financing to provide an alternative to the current system. Hearings on these bills are scheduled for the end of June and early July; the Council should follow Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Allen’s lead and move them along as fast as possible.

We call on Attorney General Karl Racine to seek more serious remedies in the Todd case – including the return of funds accepted illegally by his campaign – and more serious consequences for a campaign that flouted the law in not one but two consecutive contests.

The Office of Campaign Finance makes no mention of the Todd campaign’s refusal to return apparently illegal funds. There’s been no mention of the complaint we filed about the Muriel for Mayor campaign accepting funds over the legal limit and not returning them. The Gray for Mayor campaign investigation was resolved five years after that election. It would be an understatement to say we’re seeking a more speedy resolution of our inquiry as well as reforms to prevent this from happening again.

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