April 6, 2015
VIA E-MAIL AND FIRST-CLASS MAIL
Sylvia E. Anderson, Esq.
1325 Geranium Street, NW
Washington, DC 20012
Re: Candidates Forum
Dear Ms. Anderson:
This responds to your request for an opinion regarding the following issues:
1) Whether it is permissible for senior citizens hosting a forum in a District of Columbia, Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) facility for Ward 4 candidates to provide a table for display of campaign literature which the attendees may take if they so choose. The remaining literature would be retrieved by the candidates at the conclusion of the event.
2) Whether a candidate may place campaign signs outside of the building during the forum, but remove the signs at the conclusion of the event.
Title 1, “Mayor and Executive Agencies”, Chapters 1400 et seq. of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR), establish the procedures which permit the use of public buildings and grounds and conduct under the control of the Government of the District of Columbia.
Specifically, 1DCMR § 1406.1(e), states in relevant part, “the permittee shall not discriminate on the basis of … political affiliation”. It also ensures that the use of government buildings is permitted in a manner that does not unlawfully restrict free speech.
D.C. Official Code §1-1163.36(a) states in pertinent part that: “No resources of the District of Columbia government, including, the expenditure of funds, the personal services of employees during their hours of work, and nonpersonal services, including supplies, materials, equip, office space, facilities, telephones and other utilities, shall be
Interpretative Opinion 2015-02
April 6, 2015
used to support or oppose any candidate for elected office, whether partisan or nonpartisan…”
Based upon the information you have provided, there does not appear to be any restriction that would prohibit the display of campaign literature during a candidates forum under the conditions you indicated. However, all candidates must be permitted to display and remove their campaign literature under identical circumstances.
With regard to your inquiry concerning the placement of signs outside the building, the placement of signs in public space falls within the jurisdiction of the District of Columbia Department of Public Works. Therefore, it would be advisable to seek guidance from the Office of the General Counsel for the District of Columbia Department of Public Works at (202) 671-2030 regarding this matter.
The foregoing is an Interpretative Opinion of the Director of the Office of Campaign Finance. Pursuant to D.C. Official Code §1-1163.06, you are entitled to request an Advisory Opinion from the Board of Elections on this transaction or activity.
Should you have any additional questions, please contact William O. SanFord, General Counsel, at (202) 671-0550.
cc: William O. SanFord