- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The five Democrats vying to unseat D.C. Council member Jack Evans of Ward 2 in next year’s primary are financing their campaigns under the city’s new Fair Elections Program, which matches every $50 in private donations from residents only with $250 in public funds.

The program’s first reporting period ended July 31, with the following results:

Jordan Grossman, a former Obama administration staffer, has raised $37,623.02, according to his amended report to the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance.

“It shows an incredible explosion of grassroots enthusiasm, people are ready for something different,” Mr. Grossman said, noting that his campaign already has attracted more donors than Mr. Evans‘ last reelection bid.

Kishan Putta, a Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, has raised $12,903.05, according to his report.

He did not respond to a request for comment.

Patrick Kennedy, a Foggy Bottom Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, has raised $12,656.96, according to his amended report.

“There’s a perception based on the traditional model of campaign finance that politicians, once they get into office, are beholden to their donors,” Mr. Kennedy said.

He said there is a “crisis of confidence” in the D.C. government and the Fair Elections Program ensures that “whoever the next council member is, the voters will have confidence that they weren’t put their by special interest.”

John Fanning, chairman of the Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission, has raised $6,165.00, according to his report.

“If I can get another 100 to 180 contributions every 60 days, I would be more competitive,” Mr. Fanning said, noting that he is trailing in donations because he joined the race after his opponents.

But he also pointed out that most of his donors reside in Ward 2, which he would represent if he wins the D.C. Council contest.

Daniel Hernandez, a former Marine who now works at Microsoft, has raised $3,113.71, according to his report.

He said he is not concerned about his numbers, as it is still early in the election cycle.

“My opponents have all been preparing for or actually running for office for most of their adult lives,” Mr. Hernandez said. “I’m trying to be and do something different.”

Mr. Hernandez is the only candidate who has not yet qualified for any matching donations under the Fair Elections Program, which requires candidates to collect at least 150 individual contributions totaling $5,000.

City lawmakers enacted the voluntary program last year to encourage more political participation by residents and lessen the influence of big donors such as businesses, special interest groups and PACs.

Program participants are not allowed to take donations from corporations and PACs, limit donations from relatives and themselves, and participate in candidate debates. Small-dollar donations from individuals are matched 5-to-1 with city funds.

The D.C. primaries are scheduled for June 2.

Mr. Evans, the District’s longest serving lawmaker, has garnered much more opposition in this election cycle than usual because of an ethics scandal resulting from his use of his elected position to benefit his personal consulting business and its clients. He also is facing a recall petition campaign, as well as investigations by the council and the federal government.

What’s more, he has resigned the chairman and a D.C. representative of the Metro Board of Directors.

The Washington Post reported this week that Mr. Evans threatened the jobs of the Metro Board lawyer and secretary during its ethics investigation into him earlier this year.

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