(Analysis) Primary Election Post-Mortem: Who Would Be Most Affected by Corporate Contribution Ban?

More than half a million dollars’ worth of reported campaign contributions during the primary came from corporations, businesses (parking developers, realtors, restaurants, etc.) , and PACs – the precise figure being $590,786.95.

In a a January interview with WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi, Council member Muriel Bowser remarked with great dismay in her voice,”Nobody talks about individuals.”

But I will, briefly, before diving into the corporate/business contributions.

The primary contribution records did show “democracy in action” in the form of average Joes-and-Janes contributing to their favorite candidates. Their donations ranging from $5 to to maximum $1,000 (or a tad bit more for bundlers) made up primarily all of the candidates’ “war chests.”

Additionally, a lot of the upstart challengers waged largely self-financed campaigns with only one or two businesses contributing to them. Peter Shapiro, for example, who ran for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council, notably had 29 individuals, excluding himself, maxed out their donations with lump-sum $1,000 contributions.

Only one candidate out of the 25 that reported contributions to the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance had more than half of their contributions from corporations (PACs, etc.) and businesses (all figures are rounded):

  • Marion Barry (Ward 8) – 51 percent

  • Vincent Orange (Ward 5) – 35 percent

  • Yvette Alexander (Ward 7) – 32 percent

  • Jack Evans (Ward ) – 31 percent

  • (Tied) Muriel Bowser & Tom Brown (Ward ) – 22 percent

While large corporate PACs like AT&T and Pfizer only favored two or three candidates, Reed Smith, the K Street-based law firm based gave to six candidates: Alexander, Sekou Biddle, Bowser, Evans, and Orange.

And the drawn-out decision between Biddle and Orange provides a case example of how electoral odds favored primary candidates with a larger percentage of corporate and business contributions.

Although Biddle had a higher combined corporate/business and individual contributions (745) to Orange’s combined total of 430, Orange also had 37 more corporate/business donors than Biddle.

Muriel Bowser, the self-proclaimed “aggressive fundraiser”, had the highest total of contributions in the primary with 1,292 contributors (adjusted to eliminate double counting of donations from the same corporate/business donor). Jack Evans’s total (979) places him second to Bowser, in spite of having the highest cumulative total of corporate/business donors (293).

Lastly, a look at some of the bundlers that stood out from the rest of the crowd.

Not-So Inconspicuous Bundling (Beyond Contribution Limits):


Yvette Alexander:

  • $3,500 from the Henrico County (Va.)-Delaware-Originated Group (Springfield/Fairfax/Mount Vernon Petroleum…)

  •  $6,000 from the Baltimore-Rodgers Legacy Clan of Twelve (Rodgers Legacy, Randa Investment Co, Inc, Redwood Apartments…)


Marion Barry:

  • $3,500 from the SAME Henrico County (Va.)-Delaware-Originated Group (Springfield/Fairfax/Mount Vernon Petroleum…)


Tom Brown:


Jack Evans:

  • $3,500 from the Clyde’s Incorporated (Gallery Place, Georgetown,…)

  • $7,000 from The Montrose Road Suite 500 Crew


Vincent Orange:

  • $9,000 from the Henrico County-Delaware Originated Group (including Rock Creek/Capitol Petroleum which did not contribute to either Alexander or Barry)

  • $6,000 from The Montrose Road Suite 500 Crew


Peter Shapiro:

  • $2,700 from Foulger-Pratt Development LLC /Foulger-Pratt Managmenet/ Fougler-Pratt Rockledge Properties, all on March 20, 2012 (3/20/2012)


 EXCEL SPREADSHEET (Dig In!):  ElectionPostMortemContributions


T. Brown (Official Site):  http://www.tombrownforward7.com/