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McDuffie Proposes Mandatory Campaign Finance Training

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Kenyan McDuffie won a special election to fill the seat vacated by Harry Thomas Jr. last year.
Kenyan McDuffie won a special election to fill the seat vacated by Harry Thomas Jr. last year.

After a rash of campaign-finance scandals in the District, one council member says candidates should be required to undergo training before their campaigns can receive any donations.

Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie, who replaced Harry Thomas Jr. after his arrest and resignation, is proposing mandatory campaign finance training for all candidates and their campaign treasurers. The city's Office of Campaign Finance, which currently offers training for candidates on a voluntary basis, should conduct mandatory training and provide certificates of completion, McDuffie says.

Under the council member's plan, campaigns would be barred from receiving contributions or making expenditures if the key players didn't have that stamp of approval from OCF.

"My hope is that with this training, a prophylactic effect on the campaign violations, some of which we have seen as of late," McDuffie says.

Those violations and notable incidents include the alleged embezzlement of funds from the campaign bank account of former Council member Michael Brown, the $650,000 shadow campaign and off-the-book payments to Sulaimon Brown that were orchestrated by members of Mayor Vincent Gray's 2010 campaign, and the tens of thousands of dollars in unreported donations and expenditures that turned up in an audit of former chair Kwame Brown's 2008 campaign.

Despite all of the scandals, city lawmakers have been slow to address campaign finance reform. But oversight of campaign finance was turned over to McDuffie earlier this month, and it looks like the he's hoping to move quickly on the issue.


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