Fundraiser no stranger to finance inquiries
Md. investigated D.C. firm official
ANNAPOLIS | A key figure in the federal investigation into widespread campaign irregularities in Washington has twice faced misdemeanor criminal charges over election-law complaints in Maryland, records show.
Ralph B. Bazilio, a partner at a prominent Washington accounting firm raided last month by federal agents, was accused of failing to file campaign finance disclosures in 2006 for a political action committee called BIZPAC, according to records on file with the District Court for Anne Arundel County.
The case was dropped after the committee paid thousands of dollars in fines and filed up-to-date campaign disclosures. It has since shut down.
The Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor filed an earlier campaign finance case against Mr. Bazilio, but the file was not available for inspection Thursday.
Since the March raid, Mr. Bazilio’s name largely has been overshadowed by that of his longtime accounting partner, Jeffrey E. Thompson, who founded Thompson Cobb Bazilio & Associates and who separately owns D.C. Chartered Health Plan, the city’s biggest Medicaid contractor.
While authorities are looking into Mr. Thompson’s political fundraising activities, Mr. Bazilio is a prodigious political donor in his own right. Like Mr. Thompson, he, too, was named in the federal subpoena sent to several D.C. lawmakers seeking records about political fundraising activities.
Mr. Bazilio, his wife and the accounting firm that bears his name have donated more than $45,000 over the years to politicians in Maryland, where Thompson Cobb Bazilio & Associates has won county and state auditing contracts. He also served on the transition team for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.
According to court records, Mr. Bazilio’s most recent legal problems in Maryland began in late 2006 when the Maryland State Prosecutor’s Office charged him with failure to file 2006 campaign finance forms for BIZPAC. Mr. Bazilio served as its treasurer.
A criminal summons issued in the case noted that an officer tried to serve the complaint on Mr. Bazilio but was unable to reach him. Court records list a Washington phone number that is the same as the one for Mr. Bazilio’s office in Washington, but phone and email messages left Thursday were not returned.
However, he told the Washington Informer newspaper this month that the federal investigation had nothing to do with the accounting firm’s clients.
The criminal charges against Mr. Bazilio were dropped after the political action committee paid nearly $4,000 in late fees and filed timely reports before shutting down in 2007.
Jared Demarnis, director of the candidacy and campaign finance division
The whole attitude’s changed, the way people go out.”
But Mr. Graham pointed to an equal number of concerns, citing complaints of singing, shouting, fights, car doors slamming and public urination after 3 a.m. An extension to 4 a.m. may just delay the mayhem because some bar patrons have a psychological attachment to last call, he said.
He is also worried about transportation from the bar scene, noting that Metro ends service an hour before the bars let out and taxi service may not be able to take up the slack.
Plus, he asked, shouldn’t residents expect some peace and quiet before dawn?
“I think most people are not wandering the streets at 3 a.m.,” Mr. Graham said.
For their part, members of the nightclub industry say noise is to be expected near popular bars.
“We have a 24-hour city, we have a 24-hour world,” Skip Coburn, executive director of the D.C. Nightlife Association, said.
Committee member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, said he supports the proposal. In remarks from the dais, he emphasized the size and importance of the city’s immense hospitality industry.
“I don’t see anything wrong with it, myself,” he said.
Mr. Coburn said the extended hours should be considered on a case-by-case basis, citing unique zoning and community concerns. City regulators evaluate special requests from individual bars all the time and should be able to handle it, he said.
Nonetheless, long-standing agreements with community groups could prohibit many owners from extending their hours. Voluntary agreements between bars and neighborhood groups that mandate specified closing hours would stay in place.
Some of those agreements mirror the closing time listed by law and could take on “new significance” under the budget plan, Mr. Graham noted.
Nightclubs Mr. Karim dryly referred to the pacts as “a noose around our necks.”
“There’s nothing voluntary about it,” he said.