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Interpretative Opinion 99-07: Establishment of Citizen-Service Program

May 26, 1999

Diane Simmons, Treasurer
Mayor Williams Citizen-Service Program
2475 Virginia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20037

Dear Ms. Simmons:

This responds to your request for an opinion concerning the financial transactions relative to the establishment of the Mayor Williams Citizen-Service Program (MWCSP).  You state that a total of $150,250.00 was transferred from the Williams for Mayor campaign account(s) to the MWCSP account.  You further state that MWCSP established a checking account into which $40,000.00 was deposited.  In addition, you advise that  three (3) CD accounts [earmarked for MWCSP] were established, into which $38,700.00, 36,750.00 and 34,800.00 were deposited respectively.  Your filings in this Office confirm your statements.  You state that these deposits, and their accrued interest, will be used to fund MWCSP in subsequent years.

DC Code § 1-1443(a) provides that “[t]he Mayor, the Chairman of the Council, and each member of the Council may finance the operation of such programs [citizen-service] with contributions from persons, provided, that contributions received . . .  do not exceed an aggregate amount of $40,000 in any 1 calendar year.”(emphasis added).  DC Code § 1-1472(b) states, “. . . an individual elected to an office under this chapter and authorized to establish a program of constituent services under § 1-1443 shall be authorized to transfer any surplus, residue, or unexpended campaign funds to his or her program of constituent services.”  However, OCF Regulations at 3 DCM.R. §3014.6 state, “[t]he amount of any transfer of surplus, residue, or unexpended campaign funds by the elected official shall not be subject to the forty thousand dollars ($40,000) contribution limitation . . .”.  This Regulation does not restrict the amount of funds transferred from a former campaign account to a citizen-service fund account.

Further, pursuant to DC Code § 1-1443(d), the record keeping requirements of the Campaign Finance Act apply to constituent services programs.  In this regard, DC Code § 1-1413(a) requires each political committee or candidate to designate 1 or more national banks located in the District of Columbia as campaign depositories and to maintain a checking account or accounts at same.
Based on your representations, as applied to the relevant law and regulations, it is the opinion of the Office of Campaign Finance that MWCSP was established within the statutory strictures and their implementing guidelines.  You are cautioned, however, to ensure that expenditures from the fund do not exceed $40,000 in any 1 calendar year.  DC Code § 1-1443(a).