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Out-Of-State Cash Pours Into D.C. Mayoral Race

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Legislation closing the LLC loophole doesn't take effect in this campaign cycle.
Mallory Noe-Payne/WAMU
Legislation closing the LLC loophole doesn't take effect in this campaign cycle.

Outside money continues to pour into the D.C. mayor's race as the candidates scramble to raise campaign cash.

An analysis of the reported campaign filings finds more than 40 percent of the money donated to the city's mayoral candidates is from outside the city. By far, most of that cash came from neighboring Maryland, which accounts for one out of every five dollars raised by the seven major candidates.

And this outside money is also more likely to have a corporate name on the check. More than a third of total campaign contributions from Maryland, for example, are corporate donations.

Because of the early primary date of April 1, the candidates are in a hurry to raise money.

Mayor Vincent Gray, who was the last candidate to enter the race, reported bringing in more than $620,000 in donations during Friday's campaign filing, a total that triples what any of the other candidates raised over the past two months.

Gray still trails Jack Evans and Muriel Bowser — the two council members have both broke the $1 million mark — and have more cash-on-hand to spend than anyone else.

Tommy Wells, who has promised to not accept any corporate donations, is now in fourth place in the money race.

The issue of corporate donations is a thorny one for the candidates. The other three council members in the race — Jack Evans, Muriel Bowser, and Vincent Orange — all recently voted to close the LLC loophole. It's a practice that lets business owners exceed individual contributions limits by bundling donations through affiliated companies. The practice is legal, but as WAMU explored in its "Deals for Developers" series, it has the potential for abuse.

Likewise, Mayor Gray earlier proposed a campaign finance bill tackling the same issue.

But all four — Gray, Evans, Bowser and Orange — are raising money through LLC donations this cycle as the law doesn't take effect until 2015.

"The rules that are in place right now are the rules that we are following, and we will continue to follow," says Chuck Thies, spokesman for the Gray campaign. "The mayor, however, will continue to be a fierce advocate for campaign finance reform."

But until the rules change in 2015, it looks like outside money and corporate donations will have an outsized impact on fundraising.

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