Today, the D.C. Council had its first reading of the Exploratory Committee Regulation Amendment Act, a piece of legislation meant to permanently impose financial reporting requirements and contribution limits for city candidates’ exploratory committees.
The problem the bill’s meant to address is the unfettered fundraising by candidates who haven’t officially declared yet. For instance, back in 2004, then-mayoral not-quite-candidate Vincent Orange threw himself a legendary fundraiser at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which helped raise some $200,000 for his campaign, the donors of which remained anonymous.
At today’s legislative meeting, Councilmember Kwame Brown, one of six incumbent members up for reelection next year, asked bill sponsor Carol Schwartz for a “friendly amendment” that the bill’s implementation be delayed until 2009. On the dais, Brown cited his ongoing campaign and the need not to change the rules in the middle of the race.
Thing is, if the rules changed before the end of the campaign cycle, it could only hurt Brown. Brown seemed unaware of the fact that the rules are actually already in effect. Back in 2005, the Council passed a similar bill as emergency legislation and has reauthorized it as such since, but that legislation is scheduled to expire on Nov. 29. Brown already has an active principal campaign committee subject to donation limits and disclosure rules, so why let the competition gain any advantage by exempting them?
Lucky for Brown, Schwartz—-up for reelection herself—-covered for him: She rejected his proposal.
UPDATE, 4:36 P.M.: Brown spokesperson Mike Price says that his boss was trying to take the high ground and “wanted to prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest by voting on this [during] the campaign.”
“I’m not sure he articulated it the way he wanted,” Price says.