Activists seek to ban corporate money in DC campaigns
On Tuesday, two activists launched a campaign whereby, if successful, voters will decide in November whether or not to ban corporations from donating to political campaigns in the District.
Currently, District law allows individuals, political action committees (PACs), corporations and other business entities such as LLPs to donate to political campaigns. The proposed initiative would ban such corporate contributions, leaving individuals and PACs to fund campaigns.
The drive is spearheaded by Bryan Weaver, a two-time candidate for D.C. Council from Ward 1, and Sylvia Brown, an ANC commissioner from Deanwood in Ward 7.
Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells joined Weaver and Brown at the 1 Judiciary Square press conference announcing the drive. Former councilmember and current at-large candidate Sekou Biddle, Ward 4 candidate Max Skolnik, shadow representative candidate Nate Bennett-Fleming and several members of D.C. for Democracy were also in attendance.
Skolnik pledged to incorporate the signature drive into his own campaign challenging Councilmember Muriel Bowser for the Ward 4 Democratic nomination.
"Councilmember Bowser had a chance to remove the corrupting money from our elections, but instead she chose to protect the developers and lobbyists who have helped her campaigns raise nearly a million dollars," said Skolnik.
In order for the initiative to appear on the November ballot, supporters will have to gather approximately 22,500 signatures from registered DC voters. However, before petitions are circulated the initiative must clear several legal hurdles beginning when the Board of Elections and Ethics publishes in the D.C. Register notice of a public meeting to consider whether the subject matter meets requirements set in law. If the initiative survives that step, the Board will draft an official "short title" and "summary statement," after which the public will have ten days to review and challenge in Superior Court the intent of the initiative.
Barring complications, the Board will then approve petitions. Circulators will have 180 days to collect the required number of signatures.
The D.C. Committee to Restore Public Trust, chaired by Brown, is tweeting and expects to unveil a website in the coming days.