- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 20, 2002

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams would be forced to return $1.3 million in contributions to the Democratic Party if he is pulled off the ballot for insufficient valid signatures and chooses to run as an independent in the September primary, Office of Campaign Finance officials said.
"Our interpretation is that the persons who contributed money did not contribute to him as an independent but as a Democrat," said Kathy E. Williams, general counsel for campaign finance.
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics is reviewing thousands of signatures on petitions submitted by Mr. Williams' campaign and will decide whether the mayor has the required 2,000 valid signatures to be put on the Sept. 10 primary ballot. The board must make its ruling by July 30.
If the three-member panel, appointed by the mayor, finds there are not enough valid signatures, Mr. Williams will be scratched from the ballot.
Should that happen, he has the option of running as an independent or as a write-in candidate on the Democratic ticket.
Ms. Williams said that to run as an independent, the mayor would have to start his campaign from scratch.
"He would have to shut down his old committee returning all monies contributed to either the party or to the givers," she said.
Mr. Williams would then have to open a new committee and begin requesting contributions for his independent campaign.
"He couldn't take the money to the Statehood Green Party or any other party."
The mayor faces four challenges to his campaign petitions and one complaint from the D.C. Republican Committee. A public hearing is set for Wednesday morning to deal with the challenges.
Ben Wilson, chairman of the Board of Elections and Ethics, said yesterday on WTOP's "The Politics Program with Mark Plotkin" that his panel has never seen "such a wholesale, apparent disregard" of the rules.
Of the more than 10,240 signatures submitted some with the names of dead entertainers such as Dudley Moore, and political figures such as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan more than 6,000 are clearly invalid, challenger Dorothy Brizill said.
She said Mr. Williams may only have 900 valid signatures if the board takes into account the obviously phony names and forgeries.
Mr. Wilson said any petitions found to have forged signatures of petition circulators would be thrown out even if some of the signatures on the document are valid.
He said the board has subpoenaed at least three petition circulators working in the Williams re-election campaign.
Three of the circulators, Scott Bishop Sr., his daughter-in-law Crystal Bishop and Ann E. Lewis, have admitted in media accounts that they either signed off on petitions with forged signatures or that their names were forged on petitions.
The Washington Times reported yesterday that the Bishops have retained attorney David Wilmot to represent them.
A former chief adviser for Mr. Williams' campaign Charles Duncan, who resigned amid the petition controversy also was subpoenaed. But Mr. Wilson said that because Mr. Duncan lives in North Carolina, he may be beyond the board's reach.
Mr. Williams' campaign would not confirm what he will do if he is pulled off the ballot.

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