- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A D.C. political operative who found himself at the center of a controversy involving a Southeast affordable housing complex is hosting a meet-and-greet for a front-running candidate in the Ward 8 special election.

Phinis Jones, owner of Capitol Services Management, is scheduled to host the event for D.C. Council candidate LaRuby May on Tuesday evening, according to Ms. May’s schedule. The event will be held at 3200 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast, the location of Mr. Jones’ business.

Mr. Jones is the former property manager of Park Southern Apartments, a 350-plus-unit affordable housing complex that has been under financial investigation since last summer. An investigation into whether more than $300,000 in tenants’ rent were improperly spent also spilled over into the mayoral race due to Mr. Jones’ ties to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Mr. Jones and his companies helped Ms. Bowser soar to victory, banking more than $20,000 for her campaign.

In a crowded Ward 8 race to fill the seat left vacant by the death of D.C. Council member Marion Barry, Ms. May has enjoyed strong support from Ms. Bowser. During the mayoral campaign, Ms. May worked as Ms. Bowser’s Ward 8 coordinator.

She also previously worked for Mr. Jones at Capitol Services Management, Inc. Asked whether she was worried Mr. Jones’ support could be framed negatively against her by others competing for the seat — as Ms. Bowser’s main challenger, David Catania, did in the mayoral race — Ms. May said she wasn’t concerned.

“Mr. Jones is a supporter, more importantly he is a Ward 8 voter,” Ms. May said. “He invited some of his neighbors and friends to come in and hear me. Any opportunity to talk to Ward 8 voters is one that I accept.”

Mr. Jones, who did not return calls made to his office Monday, has also supported Ms. May’s campaign financially.

D.C. campaign finance records show Mr. Jones personally gave $500, the maximum amount allowed in ward races, to Ms. May. So did Monica Ray, who owns a Southeast home located at 3215 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue that serves as the postal address for numerous Certified Business Enterprises tied to Mr. Jones.

Capitol Services Management Inc. also contributed $500, as did two other businesses listed at 3200 and 3215 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

New campaign finance laws that ban contributions from affiliated businesses took effect at the end of January, after the donations had already been made.

The Tuesday night event is one of five meet-and-greet and fundraising events being held by Ms. May this week, according to her calendar of upcoming events. A Ward 8 candidate forum is also scheduled for Wednesday.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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