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District Democratic whistleblowers seek federal probe of party spending

Two whistleblowers in the ongoing investigation into how the D.C. Democratic State Committee raised and spent money for last year's Democratic National Convention are rebuffing requests from party leaders to handle the matter internally.

On Thursday -- the same day the Washington Post wrote a story about Councilman Vincent C. Gray's (D) role in the matter -- the president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club reached out to two Democratic state committee members to try keep the story from growing.

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics is currently investigating why the local Democratic party failed to report more than $100,000 in contributions it raised from corporate and other sources for the convention in Denver. In a preliminary audit, the board's Office of Campaign Finance has discovered that several council members solicited or gave donations that exceeded the $5,000 donation limit for a political committee.

Jeffrey D. Richardson, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club president, who also is an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee Youth Council, sent his e-mail Thursday to Lenwood Johnson and Philip Pannell, who both have been critical of the party leadership regarding the convention fund.

"I am writing out of concern for the future of the D.C. Democratic Party as a result of the actions affiliated with the Denver Convention fundraising and lack of reporting that has come to light as a result of the (campaign finance) audit," Richardson wrote. "On multiple occasions you both announced that you had either already or were planning to file complaints with the (Federal Elections Commission) and U.S Attorney.

"In light of today's press in the Post and the CityPaper and given the direction this investigation is going with the intense response by the D.C. Republican Party, I am personally requesting that you both consider delaying your action to allow DCDSC members to hear your specific concerns with the hopes of outlining a plan of action to address your specific concerns without further public embarrassment to the D.C. Democratic Party and D.C. Democrats."

E-mail traffic supplied by Pannell provided Johnson's response.

"I understand your concerns, but I have already filed my request for a criminal investigation with the U.S. Attorney," Johnson wrote. "This is a very serious matter, and I believe we are not moving toward resolution with all the continuing 'katydidding.' "

In an interview today, Richardson said he was surprised his e-mail has been made public.

"I wasn't aware a member of the party forwarded that e-mail to the press," Richardson said. "The true extent (of the e-mail) was the desire of the the state committee as a whole to move forward making sure we are in compliance with the letter and spirit of the law."

Richardson also stressed his email "definetly was not an attempt to block" a potential federal investigation into the local party's fundraising.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Richardson is a member of the Democratic National Committee. He is a member of the Democratic National Committee Youth Council.

-- Tim Craig

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  November 19, 2009; 1:27 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Democrats & Republicans  
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Correction Mr. Craig, Mr. Richardson is not an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee

Posted by: chngeagent | November 19, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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