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Allen raised $50,000 from unnamed sources

(Published February 8, 1999)


Staff Writer

D.C. City Councilwoman Sandra Allen has raised more than $50,000 for her Constituent Services Fund since she took office, but where she got it remains a mystery to the public.

According to records required to be filed with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, Allen raised $52,746 between January 1997 and October 1998 in "mass collections," unitemized lump sums listed in city records as coming from "fundraisers" or "events." There are no records of tickets being sold and no names of individual contributors. For example, a "constituency fundraiser" on March 9, 1997, raised $7,600. No details are recorded.

Allen, D-Ward 8, maintains the money represents individual donations in cash and checks of less than $50 raised by "passing the hat" at receptions, dinners and her well-attended multiple birthday parties. Donations of less than $50 are not required to be itemized, according to D.C. law.

Michael Simpson, spokes-man for the campaign finance office, said Allenís fundraising reports are "perfectly legal" although the pattern of reporting nearly all receipts as unitemized lump sums is unusual.

Each council member and the mayor maintain a Constituent Services Fund raised mostly through donations. Although they are prohibited by law from spending the money on their re-election campaigns and other political purposes, council members otherwise are free to spend the funds at their discretion. Many spend the money on rent and utility assistance for needy residents, holiday parties, bank fees and parking tickets.

All members of last yearís council besides Allen itemized contributions to their constituent services funds and received regular large contributions from prominent individuals and leading corporations in the city.

Allen said she has not received any contributions exceeding $50 from businesses because she does not actively solicit their support for her Constituent Services Fund.

Allen has been asked to appear for a hearing because she failed to file her most recently required quarterly report, which was due Jan. 4, Simpson said. Allen received an extension of the deadline until Jan. 22 but also missed that deadline.

Allen said she was not aware the report was late and that her treasurerís mother had been seriously ill. "Weíll get the report in right away," she told a reporter on Feb. 4.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator