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McDuffie wants to mandate campaign finance training

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder,D.C. Council

In the District's latest bid to curb campaign finance violations, a D.C. councilman wants to send local candidates and their campaign treasurers back to the classroom.

Ward 5 Councilman Kenyan McDuffie introduced legislation Tuesday that would require candidates and treasurers alike to take part in training about the city's complicated campaign finance rules before they could begin raising or spending money.

"This is a bill that really, in our opinion, is going to hold those candidates and treasurers more responsible," McDuffie said. "There's no one who is going to be able to say, 'I didn't know.' "

Under McDuffie's plan, the city's Office of Campaign Finance would develop and administer the training program, and the legislation included few requirements for the training beyond that participants attend the session in person.

The proposal, which would allow the District to adopt similar guidelines to those already in place in other major cities like Los Angeles and New York, quickly drew four other supporters.

The measure is all but certain to clear a future vote of the council's Government Operations Committee: Three of the panel's five members have publicly backed the bill, and McDuffie chairs the group.

But it could face opposition beyond the committee.

"It's just another link in the bureaucracy that's already cumbersome," said Ward 7 Councilwoman Yvette Alexander. "I don't see it as a bad thing, but I don't see it as anything more than what's already in place."

McDuffie's proposal enters a crowded field of measures designed to strengthen the city's campaign finance structure, which has been rocked by a series of scandals that led to guilty pleas from former Council Chairman Kwame Brown and political aides to Mayor Vincent Gray.

Earlier this month, lawmakers introduced four separate campaign finance measures that largely emphasized placing new caps on money order contributions.

The wave of proposals came after the D.C. Council didn't vote on reform legislation in 2012, adjourning for the session and killing every measure that was pending before it.

Gray is also pushing a proposal of his own that would limit campaign contributions from city contractors and place new restrictions on corporate donations.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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