- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2012

New campaign finance reports show D.C. Council incumbents with adequate war chests or recharging their fundraising efforts with about three months to go before the Nov. 6 election.

The mid-August filings offer the first look at candidates’ fiscal health as the general election season begins in earnest. With nearly 75 percent of D.C. voters registered Democratic, local partisan elections frequently draw less interest than primaries, which this year were held in April.

Incumbent council members Jack Evans and Muriel Bowser raised $1,500 and $19,217 respectively during the most recent reporting period from June 11 to Aug. 10 despite running unopposed in November.

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Both candidates are believed to have mayoral aspirations. Mr. Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, who has said he will run in the next mayoral election, now has $51,000 on hand. Ms. Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat, has $97,000 in her campaign account.

On the other hand, a two-way race for Ward 7 member of the council has collected much less cash heading into the home stretch. The filing from incumbent Yvette M. Alexander, a Democrat, reports $3,935 in the campaign’s account compared to $4,135 on hand for her opponent, “Civil Rights Republican” Ron Moten, who raised $3,675 in the most recent period.

Ms. Alexander, who collected $1,000 during the reporting period, had to fend off multiple opponents in a bruising party primary last spring. She said she will hold fundraisers shortly after Labor Day and sees her party’s nomination as a major boon going into November.

“I know that Ward 7 is largely a Democratic ward,” she said.

A nascent campaign by Phil Mendelson, a Democrat who was elevated from his at-large seat to council chairman in June, has raised $44,300 from a mix of corporations, individuals and labor unions and spent about $2,500. Mr. Mendelson is not expected to face stiff opposition this fall in his bid to finish the last two years on the term of former council Chairman Kwame R. Brown, who resigned before pleading guilty to felony bank fraud and a misdemeanor campaign finance charge from his 2008 campaign for re-election as an at-large council member.

Meanwhile, nine out of the 11 contributions reported by incumbent Vincent B. Orange, at-large Democrat, over the weekend came from limited liability companies that list the same address in Rockville. David Grosso, an independent challenger for one of two at-large seats, used a press release on Monday to criticize Mr. Orange — who raised $11,000 during the reported period and did not return a call seeking comment — as exhibiting “an overreliance on bundled corporate donations.”

“When the facts are as they are, it’s hard to not to point them out over and over again,” Mr. Grosso said Monday.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray is slated to send a bill to the council that, among other campaign finance reforms, would require corporations that contribute to a candidate to identify all of its subsidiaries, affiliates and controlling shareholders.

Mr. Grosso, 41, from Brookland, reported $56,000 in cash-on-hand. He raised $12,000 in the latest reporting period and spent about $8,600, according to his filing. He said the fundraising will help him gain name recognition while he talks tough about issues surrounding his incumbent opponents.In his Monday press release, his campaign boasted that it had outraised opponents and pointed out that money went missing from the campaign coffers of incumbent Michael A. Brown, at-large independent.

Mr. Brown reported in June that a longtime campaign aide had made unauthorized disbursements in an amount that warranted a call to the Metropolitan Police Department and an audit by the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance.

Over the weekend, the Brown campaign said the OCF advised him not to file an Aug. 10 report. Yet Mr. Brown said he will release a list of contributions to his campaign “to demonstrate my continued commitment to running a transparent campaign.

“This reporting period, my campaign raised approximately $30,000,” Mr. Brown said. “However, my campaign will not compromise the ongoing inquiry and audit by discussing information that is material to either.”

Mr. Grosso still faces an uphill battle against incumbents with plenty of name recognition and a Republican alternative in challenger Mary Brooks Beatty, who could take her share of votes from non-Democrats and has raised more than $33,000 overall — $8,252 during the reported period —and has about $22,500 on hand for her bid.

Mr. Grosso said he remains confident.

“That’s the beauty of this race,” he said, “where you have two votes.”

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