D.C. Council Digs In On Corporate Contributions | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

D.C. Council Digs In On Corporate Contributions

Play associated audio
Members of the D.C. Council recieve nearly as many campaign contributions from corporations as individuals -- which likely explains their resistance to limiting corporate donations.
Wikimedia Commons
Members of the D.C. Council recieve nearly as many campaign contributions from corporations as individuals -- which likely explains their resistance to limiting corporate donations.

As the D.C. Council works to overhaul the city’s ethics and campaign finance rules, members are digging in their heels over attempts to limit campaign donations from corporations. The latest campaign filings show council members are relying on corporate contributions now more than ever, nearly outpacing the money raised from individual contributions.

For five council members up for re-election this year -- Vincent Orange, Jack Evans, Muriel Bowser, Yvetter Alexander and Michael Brown -- the latest campaign finance records show individual contributions totaling $430,000, while money from corporations not far behind at $360,000.

When the same line-up ran in 2008, minus Orange, the amount raised from individual contributors was nearly twice as much as the amount from corporations.

And as council members rely increasingly on corporate cash, they have quashed efforts to rein in these contributions. During the ethics legislation vote last week, council members crushed a proposal to ban the so-called LLC loophole, which allows business owners and developers to route campaign contributions through multiple companies and, in essence, skirt contribution limits.

Bryan Weaver, a local activist who has twice run for D.C. council and lost, has been lobbying members to close the loophole and improve campaign finance rules.

“It’s just a broken system and at some point it just tilts the scale for incumbents and people who have power," says Weaver. "That’s actually what the many people think the definition of pay to play is and Im not sure why this council doesn’t seem to see it that clearly."

Weaver notes that in practically every other jurisdiction where Democrats dominate, the party usually tries to limit the influence of corporate money. The District, he says, appears to be going in the opposite direction.

Cycle Corporate* Individual % Corporate
2011-Present $358,470 $430,881 45%
2007-2008** $641,281 $1,093,520 37%
(Source: D.C. Office of Camaign Finance)
*Includes Corporate, Business, Partnerships, Labor, other
**2007-2008 does not include Vincent Orange, who did not run for council in 2007, or Marion Barry, who did run but filed his OCF report late
NPR

Handmade Signs From Homeless People Lead To Art, Understanding

Artist Willie Baronet is on a 24-city, 31-day trek across the country this month, buying handmade signs from homeless people. He says the project has changed the way he views homelessness.
NPR

Rust Devastates Guatemala's Prime Coffee Crop And Its Farmers

Central American coffee farmers are facing off against a deadly fungus that has wiped out thousands of acres of crops. Coffee companies like Starbucks are pooling money to support them in the fight.
NPR

When Did Companies Become People? Excavating The Legal Evolution

The Supreme Court has been granting more rights to corporations, including some regarded as those solely for individuals. But Nina Totenberg finds the company-to-person shift has a long history.
NPR

What It's Like To Own Your Very Own Harrier Jump Jet

The Harrier Jump Jet is known for vertical take-offs and landings. It also has an accident-prone track record, but that didn't dissuade one pilot from buying his dream plane.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.