- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2003

A confidential report issued by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General accuses a D.C. Council member of using campaign contributions for personal use.
In a copy obtained by The Washington Times, the report states that "in at least one instance, [the council member] was permitted to claim a substantial amount of money remaining in his campaign account," as a loan rather than a gift.
The document also confirms speculation that the inspector general has been investigating officials in the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) and the Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) since April.
Council member Vincent Orange, Ward 5 Democrat, acknowledged yesterday in a phone call to The Times that he was the council member in question, but said he was cleared by the elections board in 1999.
He also called the accusations "baseless" and said the report is an attempt by Inspector General Charles C. Maddox to derail an effort to remove him from office.
Mr. Orange said all 13 council members have signed a bill calling for Mr. Maddox's ouster.
The council cited several reasons for its decision, including Mr. Maddox's living outside the city, failing to follow up on inquiries made to his office and compromising an investigation into forged signatures on Mayor Anthony A. Williams' petition for re-election.
Gloria Johnson, chief of staff for the inspector general, said Mr. Orange is acting unfairly in claiming the investigation is retaliatory.
"We started our investigation into OCF and BOEE in April after we received two separate complaints from whistleblowers … well before the mayor's campaign petitions became an issue in July," she said.
Miss Johnson also said the office notified Mr. Williams, council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, and council members Sharon Ambrose and Mr. Orange about the investigation the first week in May.
"We briefed them because the allegations were serious and involved senior officials entrusted with enforcing ethics in the government," she said.
In response, Mr. Orange said he took his own money and loaned it to his 1998 campaign through custodial accounts he established for his three children, who each gave the maximum contribution of $2,000.
"When the elections board questioned me about it, I showed them the documentation, and they concluded that it was my money," Mr. Orange said.
Elections board sources confirmed Mr. Orange's account and denounced the additional accusations made in the confidential report.
The report also said the campaign-finance office had failed to conduct periodic audits and investigations into campaign-finance improprieties. It also said an audit initiated in 2000 was never completed.
The inspector general said in the report that an insurance commissioner failed to report $85,000 in income and that Cecily Collier Montgomery, director of the campaign-finance office, took improper leave with pay and failed to report the embezzlement of $3,000 in petty cash.
The election board also failed to cash $268 in checks sent to pay fines, the report said.
Office of Campaign Finance officials said they will submit a written response to the inspector general by noon today.
But sources in the office and on the elections board told The Times the accusations in the management report are "false on all counts."
The source also told The Times some of the detail in the report, which is scheduled for release today.
No audits were conducted in 2000, and Mrs. Montgomery testified to the council that none would be conducted, the source said.
Elections board officials said the accusations about the insurance commissioner were a result of an oversight on his part.
"He was a lobbyist for insurance companies doing business with the city, but [he] ceased doing that when he became a commissioner," a board official said. "He thought he did not have to disclose what he earned that year. But we contacted him, he submitted the documentation needed and we amended his report."
Board officials acknowledged that Mrs. Montgomery was given advanced sick leave for an illness she suffered from in the fall, from October 2002 to Jan. 13.
"She will have to pay back that leave using earned time," an official said.
Officials also said they did not report the $3,000 embezzlement because there was insufficient evidence to prove that the employee stole the money.
The internal investigation ended when the 24-year employee admitted taking the money and resigned before official action was taken, an elections board official said.
Board officials also said they will reissue the fine notices to recoup the $268 in uncashed checks.

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