New D.C. councilmember, law professor denies campaign finance allegations

Law School professor and Ward 3 D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh is under investigation for allegations that she improperly reported contributions during her 2006 campaign.

One of Cheh’s opponents in the Democratic primary, Jonathan Rees, brought the allegations of fraud to the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance. Cheh defeated Rees in the September primary with 44 percent of the vote, while Rees garnered less than 1 percent.

According to Rees’ formal complaint to the Office of Campaign Finance, Cheh failed to report some contributions and expenditures, such as accepting reduced rent from the developer PN Hoffman for prime office space on Wisconsin Avenue. Rees also said that Cheh’s campaign accepted financial support from an unregistered political action committee.

Rees said Cheh was aware of the unregistered PAC’s support and that her campaign was paying nearly half the going rate for the rented office space.

Campaign finance officials have 90 days to complete the investigation including interviews with Rees and Cheh.

In an interview with The Hatchet, Cheh denied the claims as fabricated by her former opponent. “At the end of the day, this will be exactly what it was at the outset – figments of Mr. Rees’ imagination,” Cheh said.

Rees, whom Cheh said would run against her next term, has also launched numerous attacks against her in his blog, calling her behavior “disrespectful and snobby towards constituents.”

Cheh calls these claims a continuation of Rees’ “bizarre behavior.” She said Rees has been accused of “cyber stalking” in the past by a member her staff and others. These behavior patterns should make anyone skeptical of Rees’ motives, Cheh added.

Susan Banta, chief of staff for Cheh’s council office, said the allegations are untrue. She said Cheh is cooperating with the investigation and providing officials with everything they’ve requested.

“She has every confidence it is going to turn out in her favor,” Banta said.

Rees also made allegations against D.C. Attorney General Linda Singer and her husband that they failed to report the existence of a political action committee they formed. The couple denies these claims.

Cheh announced last month she will take a year-long sabbatical from teaching at GW in April. During her campaign, the professor said the Council position would not affect her professorship.

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