Why Team Thomas Matters
LL was reminded in reporting this week's column how ridiculous it is that we still don't know who gave money to Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.'s non/for-profit group Team Thomas.
Thomas is backing a taxicab medallion bill, which a lot of cabbies fear may help taxi king Jerry Schaeffer take over the industry (Schaeffer says it ain't so). Thomas is also a big cheerleader for bringing Wal-Mart to the District, and Schaeffer owns the land in Thomas' ward where the big-box store might go. (Adding a bit of spice to the whole mix is the fact that lobbyist John Ray both represents Schaeffer's taxi interests and has helped Thomas defend Team Thomas, though attorney Fred Cooke Jr. has done most of the heavy lifting.)
Schaeffer told LL he hasn't donated any money to Team Thomas, but has donated to Thomas' political campaigns (and the campaigns of a lot of others).
It would be nice if LL could simply trust Schaeffer and be on his merry way. But that's not LL's job. Trust but verify, friends, trust but verify.
The campaign records, LL can check; the records of Team Thomas, he cannot. So LL can't say for sure that Schaeffer didn't give any money to the group.
It's now been nearly five months since Attorney General Irv Nathan took over the Team Thomas investigation, nearly five months since Thomas was supposed to have answered a second court order telling him to hand over Team Thomas' financial records, and nearly five months during which Thomas has lead the D.C. Council's economic development committee, where he probably comes into regular contact with business interests who may or may not have donated to his mysterious organization, which he may have spent on anything from giving kids golfing lessons, handing out free turkeys, or taking trips to Las Vegas and Florida.
If that last sentence had too many conditional tenses for your taste, that's the whole friggin' problem. Why do we still not know who gave Thomas what and how that money was spent? This isn't rocket science!
Nathan has said he hopes to have the investigation done by the end of spring. LL counts 25 days until the first day of summer. Tick tock, Irv, we're waiting.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery