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Instead, Mr. McDuffie said, the gatherings were opportunities for him to discuss with officials in the business community various challenges they face. He said one issue he raised was how to get businesses to hire more D.C. residents. He also insisted the lobbyists and their clients won’t have any influence over him, adding that he gives the same attention to people regardless of whether they donated “$25 or $500 or nothing.”

“I’m in the community way more than I’m at fundraisers,” he said.

As a candidate, the former prosecutor called for strong ethics reform.

“We owe it to residents to place corporations on a level playing field with individuals and to listen to all of our constituents, regardless of campaign contributions,” his campaign website stated.

Campaign finance analyst Craig Holman, legislative representative of the watchdog group Public Citizen, said the federal definition of bundling is broader than Mr. McDuffie‘s, including anybody who gets credit for raising a large amount of campaign cash from multiple and sometimes varied sources.

“Any person who brings in multiple contributions beyond their own is very likely doing so for the purpose of influence peddling or winning favor with the candidate or some special recognition with the candidate,” Mr. Holman said. “I give Mr. McDuffie credit for taking some steps to rein in influence peddling.”

But Mr. Holman also said Mr. McDuffie’s definition of bundling was so narrow that it “isn’t that useful” and mostly just bars donations that should be illegal anyway.

That hasn’t stopped D.C. politicians, however.

The Washington Times reported earlier this year on instances in which city elected officials, including newly named council chairman Phil Mendelson, accepted donations from interrelated companies headed by Jeffrey E. Thompson, whose office and home were raided in a federal campaign finance probe this year.

Under D.C. law, a corporation and its subsidiaries share a single donation limit, but for years city lawmakers collected donations from Mr. Thompson’s companies that when combined doubled or tripled contribution limits.