- The Washington Times - Monday, July 29, 2002

A former political consultant involved in raising much of Mayor Anthony A. William's $1.4 million campaign war chest is suing the mayor and his campaign committee for refusing to pay his consulting fees.
Tom Lindenfeld, a veteran political operative who worked for Mr. Williams periodically from 1998 until 2000, filed a lawsuit late last month in D.C. Superior Court for back wages totaling about $75,000, The Washington Times has learned.
"My attitude was that I would defer being paid until after the money was raised," he said. "But after it was raised, they didn't pay. When I complained, they said they would settle. They never did. This is completely consistent with [the mayors] habit of avoiding responsibility."
Mr. Lindenfeld, a former director of elections for the Democratic National Party who has worked on campaigns across the country, has worked for Mr. Williams in various capacities. He served as a speech writer, as a media consultant in the 1998 campaign and as an adviser on the 2000 budget process.
He also worked on a June 2000 fund-raiser, attended by then-President Clinton, that raised $862,000 for Mr. Williams' campaign chest.
That money and the rest of the $1.4 million Mr. Lindenfeld helped raise may have to be returned to donors should Mr. Williams decide to run as an independent, campaign finance officials said last week. Mr. Williams disputes that the money will have to be returned.
Campaign officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The state of Mr. Williams' campaign has come under increasing scrutiny since city Republican leaders this month charged that thousands of signatures obtained on his campaign document were forged. Later, campaign officials admitted to the forgery.
Mr. Williams was thrown off the Democratic ballot Friday after the three-member D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics unanimously ruled that he lacked the required 2,000 valid signatures, despite an earlier decision by the registrar of voters accepting 2,235 out of the 10,240 signatures collected.
The board said it was not confident that the signatures were obtained properly.
Mr. Williams will decide this week whether to appeal the decision through the courts, said campaign spokesman Ann Walker Marchant. If he does and loses, he will have to run as a write-in candidate in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary or raise 3,000 signatures and run in the November as an independent.
Sources close to the campaign and Mr. Williams have conceded that the campaign thus far has been in disarray, with many unfilled positions and an undefined hierarchy. That was because the popular, well-funded incumbent with no powerful challengers didn't think he would have to worry about being re-elected, observers say.
"They had no intention of spending that money," said one source close to the campaign. "They did this on the cheap, intending to save as much as they could. They cut corners, and that resulted in a campaign with no leadership and full of neophytes."
Mr. Lindenfeld, who says he filed the forms to create the current campaign committee, compared the way he was treated as typical of the operation.
"It is disappointing because the mayor has enormous potential for changing the city into a better one," he said. "What undermined him is his lack of attention this time to putting a campaign operation together. If you want to run an operation, that means something: You hire professionals. You get what you pay for."
He said even after the fund-raiser, Mr. Williams would continue to call him for help, and he would continue to ask for his fees. Finally, he stopped working for the mayor. Now, he says, the mayor's lawyers are trying to play legal games with him by refusing to be served by court papers and declaring the suit invalid because Mr. Williams hasn't been served.
Meanwhile, the mayor has escalated his campaign appearances. Yesterday, the mayor's 51st birthday, he attended Mass with his mother and greeted parishioners at his home church, St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Northwest. Afterward he attended an impromptu birthday party for about 50 complete with a big vanilla-frosted cake in front of a Safeway store in Anacostia. Then he zigzagged the city, stopping at Eastern Market in Capitol Hill, a Home Depot in Brentwood Northeast and a restaurant in Friendship Heights.
While Mr. Williams is still the city's most visible candidate, several council members are considering jumping into the race including fellow Democrats Kevin Chavous and Adrian Fenty, Wards 7 and 4 respectively.
Two other council members, at-large Republicans David Catania and Carol Schwartz, are being urged by prominent city Republicans to consider a bid for mayor. Mrs. Schwartz said three weeks ago that she would not run for mayor before the mayor was thrown off the ballot. Currently, there are no Republicans on the ballot.
"With this stunning decision, the race for mayor is now wide open," said Betsy Werronen, chairman of the D.C. Republican Committee. "Mayor Williams has shown how vulnerable he is. We are taking a fresh look at the opportunity to field a strong Republican candidate for the November election."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide