arcnav.gif (3459 bytes)

Back to Charter Amendment #3 main page

DCWatch brief in reply to Mayor Williams’s appeal of
OCF order
August 9, 2000

DC Watch Home

Council Period 12

Council Period 13

Council Period 14

Council Period 15

Election 1998

Election 2000

Election 2002


Search DCWatch



DATE: August 9, 2000

DOCKET NO. _________



The Office of Campaign Finance (OCF), in its order in OCF Docket No. MUR 00-01 (June 16, 2000), found that "public officials may properly express their views on the Charter Amendment, engage in activities which encourage citizens to vote on this Charter Amendment, and take steps to educate and inform the electorate of the purpose of the measure. Public Officials must refrain, however, from conveying specific messages which encourage the registered qualified electors of the District of Columbia to vote in favor of the Charter Amendment. We find that the purpose of the June 8, 2000, government sponsored activity was to promote voter ratification of the Charter Amendment." The OCF then ordered Mayor Anthony A. Williams "to immediately terminate all action involving the use of the resources of the District of Columbia Government to influence the outcome of the June 27, 2000, election on the matter of a Charter Amendment." This case was initiated by a complaint filed on June 9, 2000, by DCWatch and its executive director, Dorothy A. Brizill.

The Office of the Corporation Counsel (OCC) has appealed this order, claiming that Mayor Williams's First Amendment right to communicate his views to the public entitled him to use his office and the government employees, governmental funds, and governmental facilities available to his office to campaign on behalf of the School Governance Charter Amendment, Charter Amendment #3. The OCC's July 25, 2000, appeal brief incidentally incorporates the argument made in its May 25, 2000, memorandum by Senior Deputy Corporation Counsel Darryl G. Gorman to the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Dr. Abdusalam Omer, which argued that the Mayor's campaign on behalf of the Charter Amendment would not be election campaigning, but "lobbying" the electorate, since the public would be acting as the legislative body of the city (see footnote 2 on p. 4 of the May 25, 2000, memorandum).

The OCC appeal brief is wrong in its characterization of the DCWatch complaint; in its interpretation of the OCF order; in its statement of the facts as they relate to the Mayor's activities and the June 8, 2000, press conference at J.O. Wilson Elementary School; and in its reading and quotation of the applicable case law. The Office of Campaign Finance order is correct, and should be upheld.

Back to top of page


The June 9, 2000, complaint filed by DCWatch with OCF addressed not only the press conference held at J.O. Wilson Elementary School, but also Mayor Anthony A. Williams's announced plans to use "government employees working during their regularly scheduled work hours, government facilities, and government supplies" to campaign for Charter Amendment #3. These plans were, in fact, detailed both in the OCC memorandum of May 25, 2000, and in the supplement to that memorandum on May 31, 2000. The OCC appeal brief, however, attempts to narrow the scope of the DCWatch complaint to the single event held at J.O. Wilson Elementary School, and addresses only that event.

The OCC brief significantly misrepresents the facts of the June 8, 2000, press conference. It admits that "[t]he press conference was authorized by Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who was also the principal speaker," but it presents it as a routine press conference held by the Mayor at which "the topic was school reform, and the Mayor spoke in favor of the then-proposed Charter Amendment #3. . . ."

In fact, the press conference was the campaign kickoff event for the New School Leadership Committee, the principal campaign committee established to support the Charter Amendment. In footnote #1 to the OCC appeal brief, the OCC states that, "A District of Columbia Board of Education regulation authorizes the Board to allow school buildings to be used by '[a]ny agency or agencies of the District of Columbia Government.' 5 D.C.M.R. §3501.1(a)." The OCC thus attempts to portray the school's use on this occasion as being by an agency of the DC government, when in fact the school was rented and paid for by the New School Governance Committee, which on its July 28, 2000, report of receipts and expenditures filed with the OCF lists a check of $137.00 to the District of Columbia Public Schools Real Estate Office as being for "Kick-off 6/9/00." The report's cover sheet and expenditure page are attached as Attachment 1.

Incidentally, the leasing of the school property to the New School Leadership Committee seems to violate 5 DCMR §3501, in that school property may not be used or leased to political organizations that use it for a political purpose. 5 DCMR §3501.1(d) does allow for use or lease by, "Any person or organization conducting civic meetings for the free discussion of public questions," but that would not apply to a partisan campaign organization promoting only one side of a political issue, such as the New School Leadership Committee.

The June 8th press conference was a campaign kickoff event. It was held to announce the beginning of the election campaign and to launch the New School Leadership Committee. When it was broadcast by the Office of Cable Television on Channel 16, the Mayor's channel, it was identified as the "Accountability Now!" press conference, not as the Mayor's press conference. The Channel 16 videotape of the broadcast is enclosed as Attachment 2. The following events can all be seen on that videotape.

The speaker's podium was decorated with the green and white official campaign poster of the New School Leadership Committee. The slogan of that poster was, "Accountability Now! Vote Yes on June 27th." During the program, most of the speakers including Mayor Williams, the Councilmembers (including Council Chairman Cropp and Councilmembers Chavous, Ambrose, and Patterson), New School Leadership Committee Chair Mary Levy, and J.O. Wilson PTA President Arnice Lawrence were wearing the official green-and-white campaign stickers with the slogan, "Vote Yes on June 27th. Accountability Now!"

Everyone present knew that the purpose of the event was to kick off the campaign for the Charter Amendment. Principal Erma Fields of J.O. Wilson Elementary School closed her introduction of Mayor Williams with the words: "For your distinctive and magnificent efforts today in supporting our children in a referendum characterized by academic excellence for all children, I salute you. Thank you."

Mayor Williams was fully aware that this was a campaign event, and in fact he spoke of it as his campaign. After announcing the government officials who were going to speak, Mayor Williams said, "Mary Levy is going to be chairing our campaign, and I want to welcome her. Bill Lightfoot is going to be our treasurer, and there are a number of other leaders here from the business community, community leaders, PTA leaders who are going to be helping us with this effort."

Throughout this program, Mayor Williams did much more than express his personal support for the Charter Amendment. In another acknowledgment that this event was a campaign kickoff event, he made a direct appeal for citizens' votes. "That's why I'm proud to be with the leadership you see today, with Congresswoman Norton, with Chairman Cropp, with Councilmember Chavous and all the other members of the Council, parents, teachers, business leaders, religious and community leaders, and PTA members from across the city, together launching the Committee for New School Leadership, and urging every citizen in this city to vote for better schools on June 27th." He later said, "That's why I'm standing here, that's why all of us are standing here before our voters urging them to share our joint commitment to give every child in this city the same chance I had, the same chance we had, that same chance to live to our potential, that same chance to live our dreams."

The body of Mayor Williams's speech ends, "So that's why I'm saying to the voters, get on up, get on out on June 27th, and vote 'Yes' for accountability, 'Yes' for leadership, and 'Yes' for change now in DC public schools. Are we going to do that? All right, all right." At this time, government employees in the audience yelled, "Yes," and raised and waved the New School Leadership Committee signs.

Mayor Williams individually introduced Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Council Chairman Linda Cropp; Councilmembers Kevin Chavous, Sharon Ambrose, Kathleen Patterson, and Phil Mendelson; Arnice Lawrence, J.O. Wilson fourth grader Kristen Green; J.O. Wilson fifth grader Isaac Wilson; and Mary Levy, all of whom made campaign speeches supporting the Charter Amendment and urging voters to vote for it on June 27th.

As the press conference closed, Mayor Williams responded to press inquiries. In response to a question from WRC-TV reporter Tom Sherwood about the use of the school and city government employees in his campaign, Mayor Williams did not deny that this was a campaign event. Instead, he said, "We've had our Corp Counsel look at this, and this is a non-partisan election, and so as long as these activities are education related and school participation related, they're acceptable." When Sherwood began a question with the two premises, "You are about to use the full weight of city government. . . ," and "You have the [campaign] kickoff today. . . ," Mayor Williams accepted both premises and did not refute them.

The OCC appeal brief contradicts itself when it claims that "District employees did not distribute campaign literature at the press conference and that the only campaign materials at the conference were the privately produced and distributed label stickers and posters," and yet admits that the mayor's Office of Communications distributed a press kit that included: "a press release from the Mayor's Office identifying the Councilmembers who supported the proposed Charter amendment; the Mayor's weekly newsletter ('Neighborhood Action Alert!'), which described the Mayor's support for the proposed amendment. . . ," and other materials. This press kit, which was appended to DCWatch's June 14, 2000, supplemental filing with OCF, clearly was campaign material. The press release was titled: "City Leaders Join Parents, Teachers and PTA Members to Urge Voters to Say 'Yes on June 27th': Mayor pledges vigorous campaign for 'accountability, leadership and change,'" and quotes Mayor Williams as saying, "I am calling on voters in this city to do the right thing for our students — vote yes on June 27th. Yes for accountability, yes for leadership, and yes for change now." The Neighborhood Action Alert contains the same quotation, and is entirely an exhortation to voters to vote for the Charter Amendment, ending with the large-type, boldfaced slogan, "VOTE YES ON JUNE 27TH!" These materials are clearly campaign materials, in that they urge voters to vote for one side of a pending election issue. In addition, the OCC appeal brief is simply in error when it states that District employees did not distribute the New School Leadership Committee stickers and posters: at the very least, Carlene Cheatem, Dan Leistikow, and Lafayette Barnes did.

Back to top of page


The Office of Campaign Finance interpreted the applicable laws, regulations, and case law correctly in finding that Mayor Williams had improperly used his office and government resources to campaign for Charter Amendment #3, and in ordering him to cease doing so. The Office of Corporation Counsel's interpretation, use, and quotation of the applicable law and case law to support its appeal brief is by turns strained, incorrect, and misleading.

In its appeal, the OCC first turns to a memorandum of opinion construing the federal Anti-Lobbying Act, 18 U.S.C. §1913, by the Office of Legal Counsel ("OLC") of the U.S. Department of Justice. This opinion was requested by Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, and written by Assistant Attorney General William P. Barr in 1989, to justify lobbying activities by the Justice Department and the administration of President George Bush. The first thing that must be said about this document is that it is an advocacy opinion that has no more weight or legal significance than the OCC's own May 25th memorandum to the Mayor's Chief of Staff.

The second thing that must be noted is that the memorandum refers throughout to what is forbidden in the law, the federal administration's lobbying of Congress through generating citizen pressure on members of Congress with respect to legislation or appropriation. The memorandum is not about elections or campaigning; nowhere does it refer to any election or campaign activities; and it does not apply to electioneering or campaigning. It is solely about and applies only to limits on lobbying by federal executive branch officials of Congress through communicating to the public under the Anti-Lobbying Act of 1919.

Next, the OCC turns to the applicable case law. In its comment on District of Columbia Common Cause v. District of Columbia, Civ. No. 85-3528 (D.D.C. October 21, 1986), the OCC repeats its misrepresentation of the June 8, 2000, event as a "routine press conference" of the Mayor's office. It attempts to distinguish the facts of the Common Cause case from those of the present case by saying that "Common Cause involved a discrete and measurable government expenditure for 'grass roots' electioneering, not a routine press conference."

The brief claims that "there is no similar measurable and discrete expenditure of funds" in the Williams's administration's efforts to promote Charter Amendment #3. On the contrary, personnel costs and the costs of the use of government resources and facilities are routinely measured and itemized, and the administration did make discrete and measurable government expenditures on behalf of Charter Amendment #3 on June 8, 2000, and at other times.

On July 7, 2000, Councilmember Kathy Patterson, on behalf of the Council's Committee on Government Operations, wrote Mayor Williams asking for "an itemization of personal services and non-personal services costs expended by the District government in support of the June 27, 2000 school governance referendum. I would also like to know what plans are underway to reimburse the government for the expenditures." This letter is Attachment 3. On July 12, 2000, at a hearing of the Committee on Government Operations, Councilmember David Catania asked Corporation Council Robert Rigsby for an accounting of government activities in the election. Neither Mayor Williams nor Mr. Rigsby has responded to these requests, but their failure to respond in no way indicates that such expenditures are not measurable and cannot be itemized.

The OCC brief further misrepresents Common Cause in its claim that "even the First Amendment ruling is questionable on the facts there." The brief claims that "the D.C. Circuit refused to affirm the decision on plaintiffs' First Amendment claim, finding merely that, for purposes of pendent jurisdiction of the local-law appropriations claim, the First Amendment claim was not 'so attenuated and unsubstantial as to be absolutely devoid of merit.'" In point of fact, the Circuit Court did not "refuse to affirm the decision" on the First Amendment claim; it found that the First Amendment claim was necessary and sufficient to establish federal jurisdiction: "The constitutional claim suffices to establish federal jurisdiction, and the [district] court had power to hear the pendent claim." The Circuit Court actually wrote, in language quite different from refusing to decide the constitutional issue, that, "Although we do not decide the constitutional issue, we recognize that it is not '"so attenuated and unsubstantial as to be absolutely devoid of merit."'" As the triple quotation marks indicate, the Circuit Court was not dismissing the importance of the First Amendment claim by this language, contrary to the impression created by the OCC brief; it was quoting language used in a string of cases (Hagans v. Lavine, Newport Water Co. v. Newburyport) dating back to 1904 to establish the minimum relevance necessary to establish federal jurisdiction.

The OCC brief similarly misinterprets and selectively quotes In the Matter of Robert L. Schultz v. State of New York, 148 Misc.2d 677, 561 N.Y.S.2d 377 (1990). The OCC is right that Schultz does state that, "Public officials have the right of free speech, and in fact, have a responsibility to express their views on any issue which affects the electorate they serve." However, that is not what is at issue here. The OCF in its order clearly stated that, "public officials may properly express their views on the Charter Amendment, engage in activities which encourage citizens to vote on this Charter Amendment, and take steps to educate and inform the electorate of the purpose of the measure." What the OCC brief omits is the court's key finding in Schultz that was given in the paragraph preceding the one quoted, "Respondents [NY state officials] have the responsibility to inform and educate the people and not to lead them by the nose into the voting booth." Mayor Williams was engaged in leading by the nose, not in educating or informing the public.

In the Schultz case, the court found that, "there is no question of fact concerning the expenditure of State funds, thus, the only issue is whether respondents' use of public monies seeks to persuade or convey approval with respect to passage of the Bond Act." The court was determining merely whether materials produced by the State of New York had "crossed the line between education of the public and an attempt to persuade the electorate to approve the Bond Act." The State had conceded that materials that clearly urged voters to vote in one way on the Bond Act would not be allowed: "Respondents concede that materials which state 'Vote Yes' or 'Vote No' would be prohibited." What was at issue was whether materials that contained slogans such as "Keep New York Clean and Green" and "It is the ultimate selfless act" were "clearly intended to influence the voter rather than inform," and the court found that they were. In the current case, the Mayor's office produced materials that did state "Vote Yes," in exactly those words. These are clearly prohibited by, and they are not even contested in, Schultz.

The OCC then engages in an irrelevant aside that, "the court importantly made no distinction between the right of public officials to freedom of speech while on duty and freedom of speech when off-duty." The issue is not when Mayor Williams is on or off duty, but whether he may use public funds and government employees and resources to campaign in an election.

The OCC also brings up again the eccentric argument that Mayor Williams was lobbying, and not campaigning, because the people were acting in a "legislative capacity" and that "[t]he electorate performs the same function as the that of Congress or the Council when it votes on ballot measures." Again, as is clear in the District code, people of the District of Columbia are not its City Council or legislative body, public elections in the District are not legislative meetings, and in no sense and on no occasion should campaigning for votes in an election ever be considered lobbying. The OCC confuses here two completely different and distinct things that have been clearly distinguished and defined for decades. The definitions cited by the OCF on page 11 of its June 16, 2000, order should have been sufficient to clear up any remaining confusion about these matters in the OCC.

Next, the OCC misrepresents the findings of Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 92-93 (1976), and attempts to mislead this Board, by cobbling together two sentences and omitting key words in order to distort their meaning. The OCC brief argues that government need not remain neutral on electoral issues, and that the use of public funds and public financing for political messages such as "Vote Yes" on the Charter Amendment is supported by Buckley. To that end, it quotes Buckley as follows:

The use of "public money to facilitate and enlarge public discussion . . . furthers, not abridges, . . . First Amendment values."

What Buckley actually said was:

Subtitle H is a congressional effort, not to abridge, restrict, or censor speech, but rather to use public money to facilitate and enlarge public discussion and participation in the electoral process, goals vital to a self-governing people. Thus, Subtitle H furthers, not abridges, pertinent First Amendment values.

The OCC omits any reference to "Subtitle H" because including this reference would make it clear that the court is not speaking about the government's use of public funds to subsidize partisan activities on one or the other side of an issue, but about public financing of presidential election campaigns, and specifically about the constitutionality of the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. While the OCC's quotation from Buckley may gain points for its creativity, it loses points for its fundamental dishonesty.

Finally, the OCC brief does quote accurately from First National Bank of Boston v. Belloti, 435 U.S. 765 (1978), but the case is irrelevant. This case merely prevents government from discriminating among citizens or classes of citizens, and allotting to them different free speech rights with regard to pending legislation or elections. In the law overturned by this case, banking associations and business corporations had been prevented from spending money to oppose a referendum, when all other citizens and groups were free to expend funds. This is a quite different situation from the restraints and limits that government places upon itself and upon the use of public funds. The case does not apply to this situation.


In its order in docket number MUR 00-01, the Office of Campaign Finance ruled correctly, and in accordance with municipal regulations, District Code, and all settled case law. Its findings and order should be affirmed by the Board of Elections and Ethics.1

Respectfully submitted,

Dorothy A. Brizill, Executive Director
1327 Girard Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009-4915

Back to top of page

1. The issue of DCWatch's preliminary motion, asking the Board of Elections and Ethics to dismiss the appeal because the Office of Corporation Counsel may not legally represent the Mayor in this proceeding, is further addressed in Attachment 4.

Back to top of page


Committee report to OCF

Expense page of reportBack to top of page




On June 10, 2000, DCWatch filed a preliminary motion with the Board of Elections and Ethics, asking for the dismissal of this appeal because it was improperly filed by the Office of the Corporation Counsel (OCC).

The OCC's representation of the Mayor is inherently a conflict of interest and is contrary to the DC Bar's Rules of Professional Conduct 1.7(a), 1.7(b), and 1.13. The OCC is the official attorney of the government of the District of Columbia and represents that government. Since the issuance of the OCF order on June 16, 2000, the government's official position in this matter is the OCF's position as stated in its June 16 order, and the OCC's representation of a government official (Anthony A. Williams) against the government (OCF) is a breach of its ethical responsibility to its client, the government and citizens of the District of Columbia. The OCC's proper course of conduct is outlined in Comment 8 to Rule 1.13 of the DC Bar's Rules of Professional Conduct:

There are times when the organization's interest may be or become adverse to those of one or more of its constituents. In such circumstances the lawyer should advise any constituent, whose interest the lawyer finds adverse to that of the organization, of the conflict or potential conflict of interest, that the lawyer cannot represent such constituent, and that such person may wish to obtain independent representation. Care must be taken to assure that the individual understands that, when there is such adversity of interest, the lawyer for the organization cannot provide legal representation for that constituent individual, and that discussions between the lawyer for the organization and the individual may not be privileged.

While the OCC may represent the Mayor or any other official or employee of the District of Columbia in an action involving the government of the District of Columbia, when the interests of that official or employee coincide with the interests of the government, it may not represent the Mayor or any other official or employee of the District government in an adversarial action against that government.

In response to this motion, the OCC filed two documents as an appendix to its brief of July 25, 2000, and implies that it relies upon these documents to justify its representation of Mayor Williams. The first document is the "Report by the District of Columbia Bar Special Committee on Government Lawyers and the Model Rules of Professional Conduct," December 1988, popularly referred to as the "Sims Report." The OCC represents this report as though it were authoritative. However, the preface by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to the DC Bar Rules of Professional Conduct, referring to this report, notes: "The court had also been considering the report of the Sims Committee, and during meetings of the Board of Judges in the fall of 1989, various recommendations of the Sims Committee were adopted in the Rules and Comments along with changes resulting from consideration of the December 1988 comments filed with the court."

In other words, as the OCC is doubtless aware, this report has power and authority only to the extent that some, but not all, of its recommendations were incorporated into the Rules of Professional Conduct. It has no independent standing as a guide to professional conduct, and it is not reliable as such. It is not an interpretation of or commentary on the rules as they were adopted by the Court of Appeals a year later, but recommendations for potential rule changes, some of which the court made and some of which it did not make. When, where, and if the report differs from the rules or would lead to a different interpretation of the rules, the rules govern.

Similarly, the OCC appends and relies upon a memorandum by a former Corporation Counsel, John M. Ferren, giving guidance to District Government agency heads as to his own view of the role of the Corporation Counsel "as chief litigator for the District government and guidelines for resolving conflicts between agencies." While the OCC may, like any private law firm, issue written guidelines for its attorneys in matters of ethical conduct and conflict of interest, these guidelines and opinions can only supplement — or perhaps extend — the DC Bar's Rules. Where, when, and if they contradict or contravene the Rules for Professional Conduct, they have no weight or authority. The OCC, or any private law firm, may issue stricter and more stringent rules for the conduct for its own attorneys than those contained in the DC Bar's Rules, and may enforce them internally. But neither the Office of the Corporation Counsel nor any private law firm can issue rules of professional conduct for its attorneys that are looser or less demanding than the DC Bar's Rules, and thereby relieve its attorneys from adhering to the standards set forth in the Bar's Rules.

The issue presented by DCWatch's motion and not confronted by the OCC is: who is the OCC's client? Is the OCC's client Mayor Anthony A. Williams, or is it the government of the District of Columbia? The OCC's answer is that its chief client is Mayor Anthony A. Williams. It is mistaken.

In fact, Mr. Robert R. Rigsby, the District of Columbia Corporation Counsel, seemingly has an even broader understanding of whom he represents. In a hearing before the City Council Committee on Government Operations, on the morning of July 12, 2000, approximately 28 minutes into Mr. Rigsby's testimony, Councilmember David Catania asked Mr. Rigsby to detail the actions taken by the government of the District of Columbia and its employees to support the School Governance Charter Amendment, Charter Amendment #3. Mr. Rigsby resisted answering the question, which led to the following exchange:

    Councilmember Catania: "I think it's curious, and I'm curious as to how you, in good faith and consistent with your responsibilities to the bar, file a paper in defense of actions and not know the full scope of the actions."

    Mr. Rigsby: "I know the full scope of the actions as they were conveyed to me by my client, Mr. Catania, at the time — at the time, the Mayor and the people that were in fact pushing for the referendum."

Mr. Rigsby's understanding, at least as it was expressed at the hearing, was that he was representing both Mayor Williams and the New School Leadership Committee — an understandable belief, given that the New School Leadership Committee and the employees of the Office of the Mayor were almost indistinguishable.

However, let us assume that OCC really believes that its client is only Mayor Anthony A. Williams, and not the New School Leadership Committee. If it does believe that, it does not understand the role of a government lawyer. It is not just the DC Bar's Rules of Professional Conduct that forbid the OCC from representing an individual official of the government when that individual's interests conflict with the institution; it is also case law. In re Grand Jury Subpoena Duces Tecum, 112 F.3d 910 (8th Cir. 1997) [decided, Apr. 4, 1997, amended and unsealed, May 2, 1997)], cert. denied, sub. nom. Office of the President v. Office of Independent Counsel, 65 U.S.L.W. 3767, 1997 WestLaw 274825 (June 23, 1997), is the case most on point. In that case, the immediate issue was attorney-client privilege, claimed by President William Clinton on behalf of his wife, but the underlying issue was the role of government attorneys. Ronald D. Rotunda summarized this part of the decision quite concisely ("White House Counsel and the Attorney Client Privilege,"

White House Counsel Charles Ruff reacted to the Supreme Court decision by announcing that he continues "to believe that government lawyers must be allowed to have confidential discussions with their clients if they are able to provide candid legal advice." Ruff is right about this principle, but he is wrong in thinking that his client is Mr. Clinton. His client is an entity, the Office of the President, not this particular officeholder. Mr. Clinton has his personal lawyers, and Ruff is not one of them.

This is why Judge Ferren's memorandum, which seeks to clarify guidelines for OCC's representation in resolving conflicts between agencies, is irrelevant to this case. Anthony A. Williams is not an agency of the District government, but an individual; the OCF order was directed to Mayor Anthony A. Williams and not to the Office of the Mayor. There is no conflict between agencies in this case; there is only a conflict between one government agency, the OCF, and an individual official of that government, Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

Government employees and officials who are the subjects of complaints to the Office of Campaign Finance or of OCF orders may not employ the OCC as their attorney and may not look to the OCC for representation. It is telling that the OCC has cited no previous cases, no precedents, for its representation of a government official before the Board of Elections and Ethics in an appeal from an OCF order. The Mayor is no different from any other governmental employee or official in that respect. The Mayor is not unique, and the OCC is not the Mayor's lawyer.

In fact, with respect to the federal analogy, the OCC is not even the lawyer for the Office of the Mayor, and would not have even the claim that Charles Ruff could make with respect to President Clinton. In the federal government, the White House Counsel represents the Office of the President, and the Department of Justice represents the government as a whole. In the government of the District of Columbia, the Legal Counsel to the Mayor represents the Office of the Mayor, and the Office of the Corporation Counsel represents the government as a whole. While the position of Legal Counsel to the Mayor is temporarily vacant, it was previously held in this administration by Max Brown, and Eric Christian will soon assume that role. If any government attorney had a claim to represent Mayor Williams in this proceeding, it would have to be the Legal Counsel to the Mayor. Just as Janet Reno would never represent William Clinton in a legal proceeding brought against him by the federal government, Robert Rigsby should never represent Anthony Williams in an appeal against an order brought against him by the District government.

However, having even the Legal Counsel to the Mayor represent Anthony Williams in this proceeding would be improper. Just as Charles Ruff was the lawyer for the Office of the President, but was not Mr. Clinton's lawyer, not even the Legal Counsel to the Mayor would be Anthony Williams's personal lawyer. Just as Mr. Clinton has his personal lawyers, when Mr. Williams was previously the subject of an OCF case and cited by an order of the Office of Campaign Finance (Docket No. MUR 99-01, June 23, 1999), he was correctly represented by private counsel, the firm of Williams and Connelly.

That is the precedent that Mr. Williams should have followed in this case. Had an appeal in this case been filed by a private attorney on behalf of Mr. Williams, or even by Mr. Williams acting on his own behalf, it would have been properly filed. However, the OCC cannot legally or ethically represent Mayor Williams in this case, and therefore the appeal was not properly filed by the OCC.

Back to top of page

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)