Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrates her re-election victory.
Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrates her re-election victory. Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s inauguration committee returned two contributions totaling $20,000 from two utility companies after an Office of Campaign Finance audit found the donations exceeded the $10,000 maximum.

An amended report closing out Bowser’s committee shows that Alta Gas and Exelon were refunded $10,000 each on March 15, 2019, which LL finds curious because OCF did not identify the excessive contributions until the summer. Bowser also transferred $20,016 from her reelection committee to her inauguration committee on the same day, according to the amended report.

The routine OCF audit also identified two more potentially excessive contributions, totaling another cool $20,000. Bower’s inauguration committee provided “documentation to evidence that the aforementioned remaining two (2) contributions were not excessive,” according to OCF’s audit. But OCF auditors do not go into detail about the contributors or the evidence that the committee provided, which appears to have satisfied their concerns.

The $20,000 in refunded contributions are a pittance of the mayor’s total haul. OCF documents show that her committee took in more than $1 million in contributions, including several hundred thousand dollars from deep-pocketed donors seeking or doing business with the city.

Records also show that Bowser’s committee took in $50,000 in contributions on Feb. 15, more than a month after Herroner’s inauguration bash at the Anthem on January 5. (Among the late-to-the-party donors was City Paper owner Mark Ein‘s Venturehouse Group LLC, which gave the maximum $10,000.)

OCF’s audit, published last month, also identifies 17 expenditures, totaling $195,105, that were missing required documentation such as receipts and invoices; missing information for $30,000 in contributions; “record keeping errors” for two receipts totaling $160,000; and one $1,100 expenditure for “event consultation and personal shopping,” which needed further explanation.

Bowser’s inauguration committee appears to have had an answer for most of OCF’s questions, except for the 20 Gs she was told to refund. But the final audit report does not show what evidence the inaugural committee provided to address OCF’s concerns.

For example, when OCF auditors asked Bowser’s committee about the “questionable” payment of $1,100 to “consultant”Sharonda Davila-Irving,the committee provided an invoice for “event consultation and personal shopping.” Auditors asked for a more detailed definition of “personal shopping” and received “a more detailed invoice with an explanation that the $1,100 payment was for “‘Inauguration Image Support’ for the mayor.”

Davila-Irving, who is identified in Bowser’s inauguration committee reports as a D.C. public schools teacher, also runs an image consulting firm.

As for the $30,000 in contributions that were missing required information on her initial termination report, such as contributors’ names and addresses, as well as the $195,105 in expenditures and the $160,000 in receipts missing proper documentation, OCF auditors report that on July 15, Bowser’s committee provided information to satisfy their concerns.

Bill Lightfoot, chairman of the inauguration committee, was not immediately available for comment and didn’t respond to an email asking for the supporting evidence. LL is currently awaiting OCF’s response to his Freedom of Information Act request for the same materials.

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