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Appointee to DC Board of Elections and Ethics falls before questionable statute

by Neil Gibson

In Washington, DC, the end of September saw Mayor Vincent Gray rendered helpless before a provision of DC’s statutory code, which foiled Gray’s attempt to fill out membership of the city’s  Board of Elections and Ethics.

In short, “civic activist” Dorothy Brizill, DC’s unofficial “government watchdog,” exposed the failure of Gray’s appointee for Board Chair to meet the residency requirement of the Board of Elections and Ethics statute. The statute calls for all Elections Board members to have lived in the city for three consecutive years, but the appointee, Robert Mallett, only moved to DC from New York City in May, 2010. With Gray already enduring corruption allegations and a recent flap concerning improper vetting of an executive appointee, he cut ties with Mallett soon after the problem arose, and is currently searching for a replacement.

Though there is no arguing the letter of the residency law, the absurdity of its application here rivals the District government’s apparent ignorance of its own legislative code. True, Mallett lived in New York from 2001-2010. But before heading north, he had been a DC resident for seventeen years. While a DC resident, Mallet served as Deputy Mayor, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Commerce, an adjunct professor at the Georgetown Law Center… and the list of his high-profile DC-centric activities goes on. Continue reading

Vincent Gray’s campaign finance slip-ups

by Neil Gibson

In Washington, DC, embattled mayor Vincent Gray and several members of his 2010 mayoral campaign remain the subjects of a federal criminal investigation regarding the campaign’s alleged violations of city campaign finance laws. Among other things, Gray’s campaign faces a growing body of evidence suggesting attempts by staffers to circumvent the city’s $25 cap on an individual’s cash donations to local political campaigns. In particular, the Washington Post discovered this past July that members of Gray’s campaign had repeatedly sought to disguise solicited cash donations of over $25 by illegally using the donated cash to purchase money orders, whose per-individual contribution limit exceeds that of cash. With D.C. Municipal Regulations calling for the itemization and reporting of all campaign contributions exceeding $15, to surreptitiously transform cash into money orders would enable a campaign to report forbidden cash donations of over $25 as money orders, and thereby avoid statutory penalties for campaign finance violations. Continue reading

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