DC for Democracy’s special election questionnaire for the Ward 4 Special Election asked the following questions about public financing, campaign finance reform and the influence of monied interests in DC politics:
1a) A number of jurisdictions provide public financing to political campaigns who meet certain requirements. The campaign must receive small donations (as low as $5 per person) from a specified minimum number of individuals. In addition, candidates must agree to certain conditions (for example, limits on how much their campaign may spend, limits on how much any individual may donate, and a ban on contributions from corporations and political action committees).
As a Councilmember would you vote to establish such a system in DC? Why or why not?
In the current Council period, Chairman Mendelson has introduced the Contractor Pay-to-Play Elimination Amendment Act of 2015. Instead of using the conventional approach of banning contractors from donating to campaigns, the bill would ban donors from receiving government contracts.
2a) As a Councilmember, will you vote in favor of this legislation?
2b) What have you done in the past to limit the influence of monied interests in DC government?
Ward 4 special election candidates
Note: candidates who are not listed did not respond to our questionnaire.
1a, 2a, 2b) Yes, we want to continue to have open and fair election process to allow everyone to have a chance to participate.
1a) I agree with and would vote to establish a system of public financing because public financing places all candidates on an equal playing field as regards funding of their campaigns. A system of public financing lets voters know that even though they may not have big dollar amounts to give their contributions will make a difference, and may encourage greater participation because voters will believe their input can make a real difference. Public financing allows the candidates’ records and ideas to take the lead.
2a) I will vote in favor of banning donors from receiving government contracts.
2b) I have maintained a policy of not taking corporate and developer contributions in the elections in which I’ve participated because I do not believe they should continue to yield outsized influence. In past elections, I consistently spoke out against exploiting of the loophole in DC law which allowed shell limited liability corporations to exceed the campaign contribution limits in DC campaigns.
1a) Of course I would vote for any campaign to receive small donations. As a native Washingtonian I have found that there has always been a community spirit for democracy and equity in an election. In 1971 when late Council Member Marion Barry visited McKinley Technical High School and spoke to a student body of 1000 students enrolled at that time to vote there was
hope. I have never missed voting since that time. Residents of the District of Columbia must have voice in any election. Voters should not have limited choices when they are faced with any election. Contributions from corporations and some political action groups should be monitored.
2a) Yes, this would eliminate the corruption in many of the contracts that have flourished in DC government.
2b) I am a retired District of Columbia educator that fought for equity in school funds that were designated to go to students. Many of the contracts for community service that have been designed to serve students in schools were never used for this purpose. In many cases I have fought with parents on the LSRT to question many of these funds.
1a) I like the idea of public financing to political campaigns and would be open to establishing a system in WDC.
2a) I am open to discussing campaign donations from WDC contractors
2b) As an ANC/resident, I have voted for those candidates that agree with my position on campaign donations.
1a) Based on recent court decisions, I do not believe that it would constitutional to ban campaign contributions from corporations or labor organizations. I think that it is incumbent upon the candidate or elected official to govern themselves accordingly as it relates to contributions and the potential for political ‘kick-backs’. The courts have settled the issue regarding campaign finance laws and the guidelines for accepting contributions should be at the discretion of the candidate or elected official.
2b) While I support limiting how money influences the interests in DC government, I have not been directly involved in any activities opposing this practice.
1a) Yes. Given the massive influx of developer and special interest money into the Ward 4 campaign I would support public financing in DC.
2a) I would not support this legislation. I believe it is incumbent for City Councilmembers to act in a principled manner that is fitting of the public office in which they serve. All money is not good money. As a public official you have to be honest with your donors and supporters so that you will not be beholden to people who do not share your value system or beliefs or to those who do not have the city’s best interests at heart.
2b) no response
1a) I would support public financing for candidates in a Rank Choice Voting system where candidates who are ranked become eligible to receive public financing. This ideal system would be best executed during primary and general elections.
2a) I would vote in favor of this legislation because donating to campaigns while also wanting to pursue government contracts can create the appearance of a conflict of interest.
2b) I have not directly influenced monied interests in DC government, but I will take proactive steps to advance legislation to ensure that we have strong contracting and procurement process that is equitable and unbiased.