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Certain officials have been criticized for using the fund to pay for office space, sports tickets and catering for community meet-ups that can be construed as de facto campaign events.

Ms. Bowser’s bill dictates that permissible uses for constituent funds would include funeral expenses, utility bills and certain community events, while prohibited expenditures would include political contributions and season tickets to sports events.

Sekou Biddle, a Democrat running to regain the at-large seat he held on an interim basis this year, and Max Skolnik, a Democrat challenging Ms. Bowser next year in Ward 4, joined Mr. Wells in calling for the funds to be scrapped altogether.

But council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat who has been accused of spending too much of his fund on sports tickets, said the funds have “operated quite well.”

Council Member Michael A. Brown, at-large independent, said this is the wrong time to reduce the amount of money available to residents’ needs.

“Folks need help more than ever, and I think to go backwards in concern with our constituent services funds is wrong,” Mr. Brown said.

Ms. Bowser’s bill establishes an independent Board of Ethics and Government Accountability composed of three members appointed by the mayor and approved by the council.

D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan testified that the three-member board may provide “material improvement” over current enforcement, but he is concerned that the bill does not provide for complete staffing of the entity.

If ethics enforcement is so important to the city, “we should be willing to pay for it,” Mr. Nathan said.

Among other concerns, Mr. Wells said the bill should prohibit campaign donations through subsidiaries of the same entity, prohibit city contractors from donating to political campaigns and provide subpoena powers to the Office of the Attorney General.

Vincent B. Orange, at-large Democrat, said the bill would have more teeth if it included term limits for elected officials and a prohibition on outside employment among council members.

“I do not believe this bill goes far enough to give us that fresh start and new beginning that we all desire,” Mr. Orange said.

Money disbursed, but still close

When politicians leave office, they do not necessarily forfeit the funds. When former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty departed at the beginning of the year, he transferred the entirety of his account, nearly half a million dollars, to the home of John Falciccihio, his chief campaign fundraiser, under care of a newly established nonprofit called Forward Faster.

The current mayor, Vincent C. Gray, made about 14 payments for rental assistance totaling $5,000, but those costs were dwarfed by $21,000 on food and even $10,000 on beads.

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