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D.C. councilwoman trying to ban money order contributions to candidates

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

A D.C. councilwoman said Thursday that she wants to ban money-order contributions of more than $25 from the District's political campaigns immediately.

"Money orders -- in the tens of thousands of dollars -- have played a major role in the campaign finance scandals that have occupied much of the public's and council's attention for the past two years," Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh said in a statement. "To leave them unregulated headed into a special election seems to invite precisely the kind of mischief that has occurred in the past."

Federal prosecutors said operatives in Mayor Vincent Gray's 2010 campaign made illicit donations to another campaign using money orders.

Cheh said she will introduce her proposal as emergency legislation, meaning the D.C. Council will likely vote on the matter Tuesday.

Campaign finance reform had been poised to emerge as one of the defining issues of the year for lawmakers amid a rash of corruption scandals, but the council ultimately failed to enact legislation.

Cheh said that delay, which has drawn Gray's ire, helped prompt her measure because she wants to see the tightened rules in place ahead of an April 23 special election.

District voters will decide then who will permanently fill the at-large seat of D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who ascended to the legislative branch's top job after a campaign finance scandal forced the previous chairman to resign.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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