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Seegars alleges contributors being illegally approached

(Published August 28, 2000)


Staff Writer

The Office of Campaign Finance is investigating alleged campaign fundraising improprieties in the race for the Ward 8 seat on D.C. City Council.

The investigation, which may not be completed before the Sept. 12 Democratic primary, was initiated on a complaint filed by Sandra Seegars, a challenger to incumbent Councilwoman Sandra Allen.

Seegars filed the July 19 complaint with the campaign finance office against William Wright, a cab driver who volunteered on Allenís previous campaign, alleging that he illegally approached a Seegarsí donor for contributions to Allenís campaign.

In the complaint, Seegars claims Wright copied her donor list from OCF records and used the information to "approach and intimidate" Yellow Cab Co. of D.C. president Vaughn Williams. Seegars is a member of the D.C. Taxicab Commission, appointed by Mayor Anthony A. Williams. Vaughn Williams was on vacation and unavailable for comment.

Wright denied the allegations and said he has not been involved in Allenís campaign this year, though he does support her.

"Apparently, (Seegars) is upset because I have been disappointed with some of the positions she has taken on the taxicab commission," said Wright.

Bob Bethea, Allenís campaign manager, said the campaign has not been notified of the allegations.

"As far as Iím concerned, there is no investigation," Bethea said.

OCF general counsel Kathy S. Williams confirmed that Allen, but not her campaign, had been contacted regarding the investigation and that the investigation does not involve Allenís re-election campaign committee.

"At this point, the complaint is against the individual (Wright) only. If the committee becomes part of it, we will bring the committee in," the OCF general counsel said.

Allenís recent campaign expenditures report lists a "William Wright" as a campaign consultant, paid $1,000 on July 15. But Bethea said that Wright works in the campaignís field operations and is a different individual than the one targeted in the OCF investigation.

D.C. law states that "no information copied from registration forms and activity reports required by (OCF regulations) shall be sold or utilized by any person for the purpose of soliciting campaign contributions."

OCF has 90 days to act upon the complaint and findings are not expected to be released before the Democratic Party primary, in which Dion Jordan and Winifred Freeman are also challenging Allen. If the allegations are found to be true, Wright could face a fine up to $500.

Copyright © 2001 The Common Denominator