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Interpretative Opinion 12-05: Circulation of Campaign Literature

November 07, 2012

Martha R. Woodland
1024 Girard Street, NE
Washington, D.C. 20009

Dear Ms. Woodland:

This is in response to your request for an Interpretative Opinion, which was received October 9, 2012, pursuant to your discussion with the Office of Campaign Finance’s General Counsel in which you requested that we respond to the following questions:

1. Whether you may lawfully circulate posters that indicate that you are seeking re-election to a position on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) that you do not currently occupy?
2. Whether a candidate for an ANC position may wear campaign literature on a government facility? The context in which you have indicated that on September 29, 2012, you participated in the “Brookland Parade” which continued onto the grounds of a government facility known as the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center Park, while wearing posters that advertised your ANC candidacy.
3. Whether a candidate for an ANC position may use campaign literature from a prior campaign to support a current campaign?
In response to your first question; based upon the information you have provided, it appears that the posters you circulated indicating that you are seeking re-election to Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5B04 were misleading and therefore not in compliance with the law. Nonetheless, it appears that the violation was cured by covering the “re” portion of the signs which accurately indicated that the objective of the campaign was to accomplish your “election” as opposed to “re-election”. Nonetheless, it is imperative that you take appropriate measures to remove the non-compliant posters from circulation.

With regard to your second question, § 1-1163.36 (a) of the District Of Columbia Official Code states in pertinent part “ 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, equipment, office space, facilities, and telephones and other utilities, shall be used to support or oppose any candidate for elected office, whether partisan or nonpartisan …”.
Notwithstanding the prohibition on the use of government resources, it does not appear that your participation in a parade that continued onto the grounds of the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center Park area while wearing campaign posters would violate the above referenced provision of the statute. However, as indicated above, no resources of this or any other government facility should have been used to support your candidacy.

Finally, candidate committees may use campaign literature from a prior campaign for the same office if the literature is donated and reported as an “in kind contribution”. However, in the case of a contribution in support of a candidate for a member of an Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the maximum contribution is limited to $25.00, excluding contributions by the candidate which are unlimited. Therefore, the value of the donated campaign posters cannot exceed $25.00 unless they were financed exclusively by you, the candidate.

The foregoing is an Interpretative Opinion of the Director of the Office of Campaign Finance. Pursuant to D.C. Official Code Section 1-1163.06, you are entitled to request an Advisory Opinion from the Board of Elections regarding this transaction or activity.
Should you have any further questions, please contact William O. SanFord, the General Counsel for the Office of Campaign Finance at (202) 671-0550.