Who will you pick for DC Council at-large on April 23?

We asked...

Below are a set of proposals for ethics reform which some have advocated in recent years. For each, would you vote for or against? Further, you can explain any position in more detail if you wish and offer any additional ethics measures you would advocate for.

  • Ban or limit outside employment
  • Eliminate or constrain constituent service funds
  • Ban corporate contributions to campaigns
  • Ban "bundling" from multiple entities controlled by same person
  • Ban contributions by contractors and/or lobbyists who do business with DC
  • Forbid free or discounted legal services, travel gifts, sports tickets for councilmembers

Matthew Frumin responded...

We cannot afford delay in this critical area.

I have worked for years to support emerging democracies around the globe. The mantra is clear. Confidence in a political system begets strength. The lack thereof is insidious.

On the Council, I will work to build confidence in the system through the example of the approach I take to tackling problems and by pressing to enact sensible ethics and campaign finance legislation.

On "pay-to-play" — corporate contributions, bundling and contributions by contractors and lobbyists — I will work to enact the comprehensive legislation put forward in 2012 based on Attorney General Nathan's draft. That legislation addresses limitations and disclosure related to corporate donations and bundling by corporate entities and lobbyists as well as strengthening enforcement. Experts at Public Citizen said that if enacted, the proposed pay-to-play reforms would be among the strongest in the nation.

Constituent service funds offer a second field on which potentially to pay to play. They should either be banned or their uses limited to meet critical community needs (no more doling out of sports tickets). And, donations should be limited and both donations and expenditures subject to full transparency disclosures.

On gifts, we must strike a balance to avoid excessive, undisclosed generosity intended to buy influence without unduly impeding common gifts between family members and friends. I would favor disclosure requirements for gifts over $75 or gifts from related persons or entities that total over $75 in a year.

On outside employment, I would support legislation to make the Council a full-time body and prohibit outside employment. Until such legislation is enacted, I support strict enforcement of prohibitions on any outside employment that could create a conflict of interest on a matter before the Council.

In our City and across our nation, we grapple with the challenge of ensuring that the voices of individuals as opposed to the dollars of special interests dominate our political process. Trying to keep money out of politics, however, is unlikely to be the most effective method to do that. Money will find its way into politics. Unfortunately, the reaction to campaign finance reforms on the national level has made that amply clear.

Given that, a more promising approach would be to move to a public financing model along the lines proposed by Councilmembers Grosso and McDuffie. Such an approach would not bar donations, but would create a framework through which candidates who received only lower dollar donations, and could win support from a broad base of such local donors, could be insured the ability to project their message and compete.

We should move promptly to enact laws based on Attorney General Nathan and Councilmembers Grosso and McDuffie's proposals. We would then lead the nation in terms of laws on the books on these critical issues. Our challenge then, as it has been recently, will be to elect leaders who will adhere to those laws and strictly enforce the laws when they do not.

We can and should get this done.


Here is how you rated the candidates' responses: