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Independent fundraising could aid Vince Gray's campaign effort

Mayoral candidate Vincent Gray is thus far facing an almost 10-to-one fundraising disadvantage compared with incumbent Adrian Fenty. But some Gray supporters have drummed up a way to help bridge that gap by taking a page from the big-time federal election sphere: an independent political committee.

Gray ally Clinton LeSueur has sent out letters to area business leaders asking for contributions to "Friends of Vince Gray For Mayor" -- billed as "an independent committee raising money to help elect" Gray.

Like federally registered political parties, political action committees and "527" groups, Friends of Vince Gray for Mayor would be prohibited from coordinating its fundraising or spending in any manner with the authorized campaign. But with that stricture comes great benefits under D.C. election law.

Check out D.C. Code ยง 1-1131.01(f): "Any expenditure made by any person advocating the election or defeat or any candidate for office which is not made at the request or suggestion of the candidate, any agent of the candidate, or any political committee authorized by the candidate to make expenditures or receive contributions for the candidate is not considered a contribution to or an expenditure by or on behalf of the candidate for the purposes of the limitations specified in this subchapter."

In other words, the independent spending is not subject to the standard contribution limits -- $2,000 per person or corporation in mayoral races.

Wesley Williams, an official with the city campaign finance office, confirms that the group's organizers had sought information from his office, but he says that they have not formally registered the committee. They would not be required to register until the next committee reporting deadline, which is Aug. 10.

LeSueur says Friends of Vince is "another tier, another layer" in the effort to elect his candidate. "Basically it's just another campaign," he said Tuesday. "This is just kind of a net to spread it wide. Anyone can be a part of it."

He also says he has the "wherewithal" and "experience" to give Gray an edge in the fundraising battle. "This is what I do," he said -- and it's what he did for Fenty, whose 2006 campaign he worked for before breaking with him over an alleged nonpayment of wages.

Traci Hughes, spokeswoman for the official Gray campaign, says that LeSueur's effort is in no way affiliated with the campaign in terms of using any of the campaign disclaimers. "Anything he does is of his own volition," Hughes said Wednesday.

LeSueur would not share his fundraising goals, but he said the committee hopes to raise "a substantial amount" -- including from donors who have maxed out with the Gray campaign. It might be spent, he says, on yard signs, paid staffers and perhaps even advertisements.

The solicitation letter -- which was mainly sent to area business leaders listed in public directories, LeSueur says -- is much less slick than official Gray campaign letterhead, but there is some resemblance: the fonts and colors are similar.

But LeSueur says he is fully aware that his efforts must remain completely separate from Gray's.

"We have absolutely nothing to hide," LeSueur says. "We want to make sure we do everything in our power to get Vince Gray elected mayor."

By Mike DeBonis  |  July 21, 2010; 3:48 PM ET
Categories:  DCision 2010 , The District , Vincent Gray  
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Comments

Clinton LeSueur is also a fine Mississippi Republican. When he ran for Congress in 2004 and 2006, trying to unseat the incumbent Democrat, he based his candidacy on his strongly conservative beliefs--including his opposition to gay marriage. http://tinyurl.com/25y9oub http://tinyurl.com/2a8hzsv http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_LeSueur

Mississippi Republican Friends of Gray for Chair just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

Posted by: hungrypug | July 21, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

hmm... Fenty did have a problem with him being Republican when he hired him to work in his council office, run his campaign for mayor and hired him to help "dumb" muriel bowser win, then hired him to work downtown in the mayor office. See how much money Fenty & "dumb" Muriel paid this Republican to run their campaign at (cut and paste): http://ocf.dc.gov/dsearch/searchresultexp.aspmf1=clinton&ml1=lesueur&ms1=&mc1=&mo1=N&xa=&sa=&ea=&ca=N&sc=&mf3=&ml3=&ms3=&mc3=&mf4=&ml4=&ms4=&mo4=N&d1=0&m1=0&y1=0&d2=0&m2=0&y2=0&d3=0&m3=0&y3=0&mo5=N&sc5=&sr=6&ob1=agyname&ob2=&ob3=&type=pcc&searchtype=nam

Also, check out photos of lesueur and fenty's cozy relationship at mocrs.dc.gov, plus more photos to come

Posted by: crestwood10 | July 22, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

hmm... Fenty did have a problem with him being Republican when he hired him to work in his council office, run his campaign for mayor and hired him to help "dumb" muriel bowser win, then hired him to work downtown in the mayor office.

See how much money Fenty & "dumb" Muriel Bowser paid this Republican to run their campaigns below (cut and paste):

http://ocf.dc.gov/dsearch/searchresultexp.asp?mf1=clinton&ml1=lesueur&ms1=&mc1=&mo1=N&xa=&sa=&ea=&ca=N&sc=&mf3=&ml3=&ms3=&mc3=&mf4=&ml4=&ms4=&mo4=N&d1=0&m1=0&y1=0&d2=0&m2=0&y2=0&d3=0&m3=0&y3=0&mo5=N&sc5=&sr=6&ob1=agyname&ob2=&ob3=&type=pcc&searchtype=nam

Posted by: crestwood10 | July 22, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

what!! I know something is wrong now, lesueur has left fenty this guy is one of the founding fathers of fenty's green team. i definitely need to take a second look.

Posted by: ward4women | July 22, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Arrogant. Corrupt. Petty. Stubborn. Incompetent.

Fenty is DC's version of George Bush. Peter Nickles is his Dick Cheney.

Posted by: DCResident3 | July 25, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

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