April 2, 2019

D.C. Legislation Would Curb Abuse of Constituent Services Funds

Statement of Michael Tanglis, Senior Researcher, Public Citizen's Congress Watch Division

Note: Today, five D.C. Councilmembers introduced legislation that would reform the use of constituent services funds, which are intended to fulfill residents’ immediate needs, such as paying utility bills, buying food or providing funeral assistance. The bill follows a recent report by Public Citizen that found some D.C. elected officials have misused the funds on expenditures like sports tickets and self-promotional ads.

This bill will go a long way toward ensuring that constituent services funds are used appropriately, distributed more equitably and do not cause conflicts of interest.

If passed, it will prohibit some of the worst abuses of the constituent services funds, such as expenditures on sports tickets and campaign-style materials. It also will provide each councilmember with more resources than most members have under the current system to assist their constituents with urgent needs.
If the funds are truly about elected officials helping constituents and not promoting themselves, then the District’s elected officials should all support these reforms. We urge the D.C. Council to pass this bill.