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Better Late Then Never?

Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) plans to file his constituent service fund report with the Office of Campaign Finance today - 23 days late.

The reports were due July 1, but Thomas's never made it to the office.

After he missed the deadline, Sonya Lake, a spokeswoman for the Office of Campaign Finance, said a second deadline for Thomas to comply was set for July 21. When that deadline came and went, the office was going to have its top lawyer hold a hearing to try to determine why Thomas did not file his report.

"We will send it over to the general counsel for an informal hearing, and he has to come in an explain why he didn't' file," Lake said. "Once he explains why he filed late or whatever, it is up to the director to accept that."

When questioned today by the Washington Post, Thomas appeared confused as to why the report had not been filed. "To my knowledge it should have been filed," Thomas said. " It was filed online. There is no reason it shouldn't have been."

A few minutes later, Thomas called back to say he made a mistake. "It should be rectified today," Thomas said. "There is no particular reason why it hasn't been filed."

Council members can divert excess campaign funds into their constituent service accounts. Donors can also contribute directly into the accounts, which members can access for a variety of community and constituent needs.

In previous years, however, questions have been raised about what some members were spending the money on. The reports, which are filed quarterly, bring a bit of transparency to the system by outlining who gave to each member's fund and what that money was used for.

The D.C. Republican Committee, which been keeping close tabs on the reports, has been eagerly awaiting Thomas's.

"For Harry Thomas, its Christmas in July," Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republican Committee, said earlier today. "He gets to raise money for his Constituent Service Fund, spend it and not tell the public what he's spending it on or where the money came from."

By Tim Craig  |  July 24, 2009; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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