April 08, 2004
Shana L. Fulton, Esq.
Williams & Connolly LLP
725 12th Street, NW;
Washington, DC 20005-5901
Dear Ms. Fulton:
This responds to your request for an opinion concerning whether the Committee to Re-Elect Tony Williams (the Committee) may indemnify Mayor Anthony A. Williams for attorneys’ fees and legal costs he has incurred and continues to incur in defending himself in the litigation styled Lindenfeld v. Williams, et al., Civil Action No. 02-5119. You further request an opinion regarding the propriety of the Committee’s payment of all or part of any settlement of the claims of Mr. Lindenfeld on behalf of Mr. Williams, because his lawsuit alleges breach of oral contract and breach of implied contract for providing political advice to Mr. Williams in his campaign efforts for re-election.
DC Official Code §1-1102.02(a) (2001 Edition) provides, in pertinent part, that “[e]ach candidate for office shall designate in writing 1 political committee as his or her principal campaign committee[.]” That political committee shall be primarily responsible for “accepting contributions or making expenditures for the purpose of influencing the nomination for election, or election, of the candidate who designated it as his or her principal campaign committee.”
According to 3 DCM.R. 3013.1 (June 1998, as amended), “[c]ampaign funds shall be used solely for the purpose of financing, directly or indirectly, the election campaign of a candidate.” Generally, there are specific restrictions on the use of campaign funds, as stated in the regulations. However, with respect to your specific request, you are correct.
Campaign funds may be used for the payment or reimbursement for judgments or settlements when litigation arises directly out of a candidate’s or principal campaign committee’s campaign activities; and, for attorneys’ fees, when the legal expenses also arise directly out of a candidate’s or a principal campaign committee’s campaign activities. See 3 DCM.R. 3013.2(e) & (f). In the instant matter, the expenses are directly related to the campaign and may appropriately be paid by the Committee.
This is an Interpretative Opinion of the Office of Campaign Finance. Pursuant to DC Official Code §1-1103.05, you are entitled to request an Advisory Opinion from the Board of Elections and Ethics on this transaction or activity.