Georgetown University donated $5,000 to help cover the costs of recently elected D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s transition and inauguration events, one of several recent donations the university has made to the philanthropic endeavors of local politicians.
These donations represent a major increase in the amount of money Georgetown has contributed to members of the D.C. Council over the past several years.
The mayor’s fund was established to cover the costs — estimated to total over $800,000 — of Gray’s transition work and inauguration. While previous mayor Adrian Fenty also raised money for his inaugural ball, Gray is the first D.C. mayor to decline all city funds for his transition. Georgetown’s donation was specifically used for transition costs, Doxie McCoy, a spokesperson for the mayor, said.
“[Mayor Gray] thought that there were individuals, entities, universities and businesses that would be willing to donate to cover the costs, since we’re in a budget crisis,” McCoy said.
According to the latest figures, over 250 individuals and groups have donated almost $700,000 toward the fund. Howard University was one of the largest contributors, donating $25,000 to Gray’s inaugural events.
Georgetown has contributed to a number of funds run by members of the D.C. Council in recent years. Since 2007, Georgetown has donated $4,300 to the constituent funds of D.C. Council members — a sharp increase from the $800 donated between 1999 and 2006.
“We frequently contribute funds to a range [of] events and causes that are important to the District of Columbia and impact its citizens,” Rachel Pugh, director of media relations at Georgetown, said in an email.
Each of the 13 members of the D.C. Council has a constituent fund, which is used to support a variety of community activities.
Georgetown has allotted donations to the funds of four members — Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) and David Catania (D-At large) — since 2007. The university also donated to the constituent fund of Mayor Gray while he was D.C. Council chairman in 2009.
The two most recent donations, both equaling the maximum allowed contribution of $500, were to Alexander and Evans. Both sit on the city’s Committee on Economic Development, and Evans also represents the Georgetown neighborhood.
Ben Young, chief of staff for Councilmember Catania, said that the funds are used to support the community.
“Anything that we do is for the benefit of constituents,” Young said.
Donations to Evans’ fund are used to underwrite charity events, support civic groups and provide emergency relief, Andrew Huff, a spokesperson for the councilmember, said.
The George Washington University has also previously contributed to the fund for Councilmember Evans, who also represents its neighborhood.
Pugh said that Georgetown also donates to support volunteering, mentoring and other events and causes that impact city residents. University officials did not provide total amounts that Georgetown spends on public service and political donations.
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