Loose Lips

Nickles: “Harry Thomas is in Big Trouble.”

Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. held a news conference today, probably hoping to put behind him the saga of Team Thomas, his youth sports nonprofit that critics allege is an unregulated slush fund—and which Attorney General Peter Nickles is investigating.

Instead, it looks like we’re on to the next, more interesting chapter.

“Harry Thomas is in big trouble,” is how Nickles began his conversation with LL this afternoon. Nickles had just looked over the documents Thomas and his legal team handed over today.

Three weeks ago, a Superior Court judge had upheld a subpoena Nickles issued for Team Thomas’ financial records. The records Thomas handed over don’t include much in the way of details, like who donated to the nonprofit and how the money was spent. Instead, the documents contain a rough outline of Team Thomas’ finances, including revenues of $216,159 and expenses of $226,783. The bulk of both the fundraising and the expenditures took place in 2008.

Nickles says he’s about to issue another subpoena asking Thomas for a lot more detail about who gave what and how it was spent.

“What you have on its face is a confession, and it’s unlawful solicitation because he was neither licensed by [Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs] … nor registered by the IRS,” Nickles said.

Team Thomas said in its documents that Team Thomas was good to go with DCRA in 2007 and 2008, and that “efforts will be made to file reports required by the District of Columbia Nonprofit Corporation Act for 2009." The same documents say Team Thomas applied for tax-exempt status from the IRS but changed its mind and “never held itself out” to be a tax-exempt charity.

Thomas’s financial documents might not have had much detail, but the councilmember was more forthcoming about how the nonprofit spent its money at his news conference. Thomas said the organization, which is geared towards getting D.C.’s kids interested in baseball, softball, tennis and golf, spent its money on things like equipment and greens fees. No salaries were paid by Team Thomas.

Thomas also said the nonprofit helped cover costs for trips he made to Atlanta, Florida and Las Vegas, where he went to a sports equipment convention to solicit gear donations for District kids.

Thomas’s lawyer, Fred Cooke Jr., said that if a company had helped pay for Thomas' nonprofit travel and that company had business before the council, then Thomas was required to report that on his financial disclosure forms. Thomas’s financial disclosure forms for the past three years say he’s had no conflict of interest with any company doing business with the District.

But at his news conference today, Thomas showed a video produced by Comcast highlighting the 2007 “First Annual Team Thomas Fore Our Youth Golf Tournament" that Team Thomas put on and the cable giant sponsored. (One lucky tournament winner went home with a six-month "triple play premiere service package" from Comcast.)

Lobbying disclosure forms show that Comcast lobbied Thomas in January of 2007. (Making an appearance in the Comcast video is its main lobbyist, David Wilmot.) So LL's not clear how Comcast could donate to Thomas' nonprofit and lobby him without those facts being disclosed to the public before now.

LL has a call into to Cooke to get some explanation on the financial disclosure form issues and to get a response to Nickles. LL will update as needed.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Wow

    Really - no comments? Only if Fenty does something wrong, right?

  • Wassup

    Yeah right Wow! Someone elses campaign manager's girl friend gets $100,000.00 sloughed off of some slush fund and it is all hunky dorey.

  • Sally

    It took Fred Cooke three weeks to produce 4 pages that don't even itemize any of the donations or expenses of Team Thomas?


    Anyone want to place bets on how soon before Thomas announces - with that sad, dopey puppy dog look on his face - that somehow records seem to have been misplaced?

    Follow the bouncing ball: Comcast gave money to Team Thomas. Comcast needs Council approval for its cable TV franchise and regularly lobbies the Council. Did Thomas disclose the potential conflict? If not, then that's a criminal charge.

    Will Mr. One City refer it to the Inspector General or Attorney General for investigation?

    The thing about Harry Thomas is that he's too stupid to realize that his video demonstration is evidence that his "non-profit" violated ethics laws. His smug self probably thinks he just pulled a fast one on Nickles and everyone else.

  • Truth Hurts

    Clicking on "documents" several paragraphs into LL's blog takes one to Thomas' web site, wherein the public can review the "records" Thomas produced. Read them. Won't take long.

    Thomas and his pompous lawyer produced NO RECORDS OF DONORS OR EXPENDITURES!!

    Back to court for a contempt hearing on Thomas' noncompliance with the judge's order. I wouldn't want to be his attorney. Couldn't maintain eye contact with the judge.

    It's one thing to claim Nickles is vindictive. Quite another to disobey a court order.

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  • LOL

    you could be his lawyer. Just let him go in there and talk crazy. The judge will know that your client is a nut.

  • tlw


  • Truth Hurts

    Even today, Cooke and Thomas remain defiantly smug. They chose a meritless, strident strategy (both legally and politically) that has been, and will continue to be, soundly rejected by the court.

    Read the opening paragraph of today's letter to the AG from Cooke. It's posted on Thomas' website. "Pursuant to your letter dated October 21, 2010, requesting information . . ."

    Sorry, jerks. Whatever you did, or didn't do, today was "pursuant to a court order enforcing a subpoena". It could've been pursuant to the 10/21 letter, but you chose the hard (and losing) way.

    @ LOL, I've been around/successful enough to limit my representation of clients to causes I believe in and to advance legal arguments only when they pass the laugh test. Thomas' matter fails on both counts.

  • DaddyGraceFishSandwich

    Are all politicians corrupt regardless of race and political party? I darn sure seem this way. Ask New York Congressman Charlie Rangel and PG County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife. Citizens, please stop putting your faith and hope in politicians. Politicians will sell their and their mama's souls to Satan to get elected or re-elected.

  • DCitizen

    Thomas is an idiot. Ward 5 deserves better representation that this guy. This City really lacks solid leadership. I'm terrified that Kwame's going to be the Chair. Hopefully, Gray is a good of a Mayor as I think he can be. But just imagine if Fenty and Kwame held the two highest leadership posts in the District- sharing a collective IQ of 103, the whole damn City would be in trouble.

    As for this issue. I hope Gray pursues the issue after Nickles is gone. It's unfortunate that elected officials use City funds to underwrite their lifestyles. Funneling it through a non-profit is no better than awarded it to a frat buddy. Shady is shady.

  • American Rogue

    DC Citizen

    I concur with your comment. The DC citizenry is experiencing its own “Tea Party” which was signaled by the ouster of the grinning cheese-monkey fenty. The Mayor-elect will have no choice in pursuing not only this matter, but living up to his proclaimed banner of “Character, Leadership, Integrity.” It appears the citizens are taking themselves seriously.

  • American Rogue

    Sally –

    I believe you are correct in anticipating the “misplaced records” claim by “slip & slide-Thomas.” The defense’s explanation will probably be based on how poor recoding keeping prevented Slip & Slide” from providing a more detailed financial disclosure. This position coupled with a “poor judgment” explanation (vis-à-vis the Comcast contribution) is going to be ALL his camp will provide. Slip & Slide will force his attackers to prove he is guilty of more than incompetence.

  • American Rogue

    Sally (con't) -

    Then comes the sad dopey dog look when he makes his re-election bid to Ward 5 residents

  • samantha

    Nickles is in BIGGGGG TROUBLE ! Time for Bar Counsel and DOJ to open criminal investigations on him . His license to practice law should be revoked today . If you wonder why Fenty is such an incompetent idiot , look into his mentor and godfather . Birds of a feather flock thgether !

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  • ?

    Samantha, what you are saying makes no sense in this discussion.

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  • tony

    It so strange that the only politicians accused of corruption in this city are black....Jim graham's office was raided by the FBI but no corruption allegations....Jack Evans has been engaged in questionable financial practices every since he has been elected but no major corruption allegations....Harry Thomas and Marion Barry are very progressive black politicians along with Mayor Gray who are fighting for the blacks in this city....And, they are doing a great job.

    The new white folks who moved here two days ago just want to take over but its' not going to happen. This city has a very large black middle class that when pushed will and can push back very forcefully---ask fenty....