DC Democracy Fund Sent Out First Checks in 2002

Posted January 28, 2003 at 1:51pm

The first federal PAC formed exclusively to help elect federal candidates who support full Congressional voting rights for the District gave away more than $7,000 last cycle.

“Small, we realize, but all this money came mostly in $20 checks from concerned residents at neighborhood events throughout D.C.,” DC Democracy Fund Political Director Sean Tenner said.

The group gave $1,000 checks to then-Sens. Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.) and Max Cleland (D-Ga.), Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), as well as to the election campaigns of now-Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Meredith Richards (D), who tried to unseat Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.).

Carnahan and Cleland, both defeated in November, sat on the Governmental Affairs Committee and voted for the No Taxation Without Representation Act last October when the bill came before the panel. The bill would have granted the 600,000 residents of the District full representation in the House and Senate.

Landrieu chaired the Appropriations subcommittee on the District, a perch she used to support “home rule” for District residents.

The organization also gave $500 to the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and $250 to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). The group held a fundraiser with Baldwin last fall at Mimi’s American Bistro in Dupont Circle.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who was not up for re-election in 2002, asked DC Democracy Fund to hold on to $1,000 the organization had planned to give him and give it to other Democrats running last cycle, according to Tenner.

“We were also able to meet individually with all these officials to explain our cause and the source of the donations as well,” Tenner said.

The group sent letters early last year to all 535 Members of Congress and their respective challengers stating: “DC Democracy Fund makes campaign contributions of up to $5,000 per election cycle to federal candidates who support D.C. voting rights and autonomy.”

As of June, however, the group had only $2,200 on hand. Federal Election Commission reports showed the group raised $3,200 in the first six months of 2001. Combined with the $2,100 the political action committee took in last year, that would barely cover one $5,000 check to a candidate, the maximum a PAC can dole out to a candidate per cycle.

Prior to the $7,250 in checks DC Democracy Fund gave at the end of the 2002 election cycle, the group’s only disbursements were to cover expenses.