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Interpretative Opinion 97-14: Solicitation of Funds

January 6, 1998

Alexander Bullock, Fire Marshal
DC Fire and Emergency Medical Service Department
Fire Prevention Bureau
Office of the Fire Marshal
441-4th Street, NW
Room 370
Washington, DC  20001

Re: Christmas Party Fundraiser

Dear Marshal Bullock:

This confirms our response to your request for an opinion concerning a planned fundraising activity sponsored by the DC Fire Prevention Fund (Fund).  Specifically, the Fund proposed to conduct a Christmas Party fundraiser on December 17, 1997, the proceeds of which to be used to purchase smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to senior and other citizens of the District of Columbia.

As you may be aware, the DC Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act (Act), as amended ( DC Code §1-1401 et seq.), vests the Office of Campaign Finance with authority to regulate the conduct of certain public and elected officials, political campaigns and lobbyists in the District of Columbia.  DC Code § 1-1443 provides that “[t]he Mayor, the Chairman of the Council, and each member of the Council may establish citizen-service programs in the District of Columbia.”  These programs, whose activities are in the nature of your proposed fundraiser, are regulated by this Office and were designed to provide a vehicle for the aforementioned elected officials to solicit and accept contributions for the purpose of promoting the general welfare of the citizens of the District of Columbia.  In addition, the fundraising activities of candidates for elective office in the District of Columbia, as well as those of political committees, are monitored by this Office.  The fundraising activity to which you refer is not regulated by the Office of Campaign Finance.

Further, it does not appear, without more, that a conflict of interest is presented by the proposed activity, assuming the participation of public officials subject to our jurisdiction.  The conflict of interest provisions of DC Code § 1-1461 apply to situations where public officials may be confronted with a conflict in their official capacities because of personal financial interests.