Loose Lips

The King of Campaign Cash

Last summer, Jeffrey Thompson, a politically connected accountant whose Medicaid-managed care firm holds one of the District’s largest contracts, had a short meeting with a councilmember up for re-election.

After some chit-chat, the two talked turkey.

“He said, ‘How much do you need,’ and I came up with a number, and he said he would raise it,” says the councilmember, who asked to remain anonymous while discussing private conversations about political contributions. “Campaign fundraising is messy.”

Not in this case. A week or so later, the money arrived all at once in a bundle of checks, the councilmember said. Each donation was for the maximum $1,000. The donations mostly came from various LLCs owned by Thompson, as well as from some employees of his accounting firm, Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates Inc.

Judging from campaign records of the last decade, Thompson’s conversation with the councilmember was not a rare occurrence.

A review of campaign records shows that Thompson, his companies, employees at his companies, companies that do business with companies he owns, and others with some sort of link to Thompson have given about $630,000 in direct campaign contributions over the last 10 years. Add in contributions from Thompson and his companies to political action committees and elected officials’ constituent services funds, and the total shoots past $730,000.

That money puts Thompson in a rarified world of the District’s top political donors, with a good chance of being the top individual money man. (Thompson didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment from LL.) Over the time Thompson has been pumping cash into politicians’ campaigns, he’s enjoyed a type of most-favored contractor status with the District. His various companies have lengthy and large city contracts, including a more than $320 million-a-year deal for his Medicaid-managed care provider, DC Chartered Health Plan Inc.

Thompson’s campaign donations are worth a closer look not simply because he makes a lot of money off District taxpayers, but also because no one else seems to be looking. There’s no good-government watchdog group in D.C. keeping close tabs on who is funneling large amounts of money to District pols, in part because it’s not easy. It took a lot of detective work to track the perfectly legal ways Thompson directs money to campaigns, and even more hours of tedious data entry by LL and his interns to compile the Thompson money list.

Before we peer inside the Thompson money network, a quick word on methodology: LL only went back to 2000 because that’s how far back the Office of Campaign Finance’s online records go. LL might not have found all the donors with connections to Thompson, and some donations LL counted may have had nothing to do with him; employees of companies connected to him might have contributed without knowing he was giving, for instance. But LL found more than 50 people or companies that seem tied to Thompson, most following a similar giving pattern: the maximum allowable contribution, to the same candidates, at roughly the same time.

Some links in the Thompson network are direct: Thompson’s personal donations total more than $30,000, and money from his well-known companies, like the accounting firm Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio or Chartered Health, adds up to about $110,000.

But LL also found a handful of LLCs that have no presence on the Internet and no listing in phone books, though they use the same address as Thompson’s accounting firm to make campaign contributions. The LLCs, which include “Bright Star Entertainment” and “JT Real Estate Holdings,” also share a pattern of giving maximum contributions to Thompson-backed candidates at the same time as other Thompson entities send money. LLCs like these gave about $43,000 to various campaigns.

Then there are employees at Thompson’s companies who largely follow the same pattern. All told, LL counted about $226,000 from that group. Moving a bit farther from Thompson are donors who live at the same address as his employees, who give to the same Thompson-backed candidates. They account for about $78,000.

Next up are a handful of contractors who work for Thompson’s companies. For instance, there’s Insuraty, a Bowie, Md.-based employee benefits firm that contracts with Thompson’s accounting firm and Chartered. The company (which Maryland records show currently has its business license forfeited) and its president, Chris Lawson, have given nearly $40,000 to various D.C. politicians.

Insuraty’s director of marketing, Michelle Haywood, and a company she is linked with, DivaGifts Inc., gave an additional $24,000. In all, records show contractors with Thompson’s companies, and those linked to contractors, have given about $94,000.

There are also some links to Thompson that appear to be just coincidental. Carrietta Butts is a customer service specialist in the career services department at Georgia State University in Atlanta, who has given $7,500 to Thompson-backed candidates. Butts tells LL she’s never lived in the D.C. area but regularly visits family here. She says she and two Georgia-based relatives (who have kicked in an additional $8,000 to campaigns in the last two years) rely on their District relatives for guidance in political giving. “We’re very old friends,” Butts says of Thompson, but adds that her donations were in no way influenced by him. When LL calls Butts a second time, she says she’s more of an acquaintance than a friend of Thompson’s.

* * *

As for where all this money goes, the Thompson network is wide as it deep. Thompson or companies or people connected to him has given to every sitting councilmember except Ward 6’s Tommy Wells.

On the high end is At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, who has gotten at least $100,000 during the last decade. Records show Thompson’s network is responsible for at least $43,000 of what Orange raised for April’s special election, or about 14 percent of his massive $317,000 haul. Orange did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Like any political donor, Thompson likes to reward winning. Former Mayor Adrian Fenty’s re-election campaign pulled in more than $50,000 worth of donations from the Thompson network, most of it in early 2009. In June 2010, as it was becoming increasingly clear that Vince Gray stood a chance of winning, the Thompson network sent him more than $25,000. By the end of the election, Gray’s total tally from the Thompson network was about $74,000.

The exception to the rule: Wells, who didn’t get anything after creaming Thompson-backed Kelvin Robinson (who pulled in $500 donations from at least 27 donors in the Thompson network for a total of $13,500).

So has all the money Thompson directs to the District’s politicians paid off? That’s tough to measure, but it does seem like few politicians are eager to take too close a look Thompson’s city contracts. An outside audit of Chartered Health’s books in 2005, ordered by the D.C. Council, led to the District suing Thompson and accusing him of fraud. The case was quietly settled with Chartered agreeing to pay $12 million (with no admission of wrongdoing), according to documents obtained by Washington City Paper, and didn’t seem to an affect on Chartered’s continued business with the District. (Even more recently, The Washington Post reported this week that the District will pay Chartered $10.2 million to settle a different contract dispute.)

In any event, the bigger issue in LL’s mind is how difficult it is to keep track of the Thompson network and others like it. The Office of Campaign Finance has lax requirements about donors reporting who their employers are, and doesn’t make it easy to sort large amounts of campaign data in ways that would show connections between donors.

Wells has proposed legislation aimed at ending the legal practice of bundling, or using multiple LLCs to give to the same candidate. Given the variety of ways Thompson has directed money to campaign coffers, the proposal seems unlikely to have much of an effect on overall campaign giving.

The real focus of campaign-finance reforms needs to be on making contributions more transparent. After all, LL only has so many interns.

With additional reporting by Nick DeSantis and Jess Mahanes.

Graphic by Brooke Hatfield, photos by Darrow Montgomery

Got a tip for LL? Send suggestions to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com.

  • blacklistedandpissed

    So why does the pretty graphic only feature black politicians? Has anyone investigated and exposed from whom Jack Evans raised more than $2M for his 2012 campaign? How much did Thompson et al give Evans??

    "Thompson or companies or people connected to him has given to every sitting councilmember except Ward 6’s Tommy Wells."

  • Truth Hurts

    Reminds me of the infamous words of convicted felon lobbyist Bruce Bereano, Gray's fraternity big bro and BFF: "I don't buy politicians, I just rent them."

    This type of 'hide the salami' funneling of dough to DC politicians is pervasive. It undermines everything about our government.

    News flash, LL: They're not returning calls because you caught them. And they know it'll all blow over if they keep their heads down.

  • Drez

    Or Mary Cheh who, after all, was just up for reelection this past year.

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  • FuckAlan

    U supported Gray. Fucking idiot.

  • rebaducote

    If you don't have health insurance and get sick, the tax payers have to pay for it anyway- so go get health insurance please- search online "Penny Health" and learn how you can get insurance at discount price.

  • LOL

    I concur with Truth Hurts

  • Legends


    "Has anyone investigated and exposed from whom Jack Evans raised more than $2M for his 2012 campaign? How much did Thompson et al give Evans??"

    Uhhhh..probably not because the 2012 race is just underway and no one in the city has ever raised $2 million for a council race. that answer you question, fool?

  • Medicaid for Politicians

    What's great about this is that it is all Medicaid money flowing back into Thompson's pocket and to political campaigns.

  • Ward One Voter

    It would be nice to see a graphic (and perhaps there is one in the dead-tree edition) of just how much money he has given to each of the members of the council and the mayor(s).

  • Rake

    Once again, more proof that Tommy Wells is the best councilmember we have...

  • LeftOut


    If by "best," you mean drunkest and most self-righteous, you are spot on! Wells is the "best!"

  • noodlez





    @Rake-"Once again, more proof that Tommy Wells is the best councilmember we have..." WHAT IN THA HELL!




  • tony

    Now whats the problem? Based on the article, Jeffrey Thompson provided campaign contributions to several candidates who were eventually elected. He then leverage his contacts with these politicians to benefit his business. Again, whats the problem? Every business person who support candidates do so with the intent and expectation of receiving some favorable consideration from such persons once they get elected. So, why is it an issue when these specific council members play the same game that others have played since the inception of time.

    One only have to read some of these comments: "...Tommy Wells is the best councilmember we have..." What qualifies Mr. Wells as the best councilmember we have? What has he accomplished that is so earth shattering? What proposals has he provided to create jobs or the like? I mean, what has he done to be bestowed such honor?

    Again, these same people may say that Jim Graham was bad, but he is not "that bad". However, they turn right around and say that people like Harry Thomas and Kwame Brown need to step down. Why Harry and Kwame can't be given the same "it's alright" treatment. I know why, and if others are honest with themselves, they know why too.

  • Rake

    @Tony: One only have to read some of these comments: "...Tommy Wells is the best councilmember we have..." What qualifies Mr. Wells as the best councilmember we have? What has he accomplished that is so earth shattering? What proposals has he provided to create jobs or the like? I mean, what has he done to be bestowed such honor?

    I won't bother correct your tortured grammar, or the other BS you spout on about (race, ad nauseum) but here's a list re: TW:

    1. TW isn't under investigation by the USAO, OIG, OCF, or FBI (this rules out Playboy Bamma, Fully Loaded, One Citidiot in chief)
    2. TW's former chief of staff isn't in prision, and TW himself did not act highly questionably with regard to a bribe attempt (Graham)
    3. TW is not a convicted felon, pays his taxes, has no outstanding IRS liens or other issues (rules out Marion (felon, taxes, car registration) and Michael Brown(Liens, but also conflicts of interest)
    4. TW didn't take money from Thompson (Orange)
    5. TW did not abuse, and has not been accused of abusing, his constituent services fund AND pays his phone bill (Yvette)
    6. TW isn't a rubber stamp for this ridiculous One City mess (Cheh)
    7. TW is not unnecessarily caustic (Catania)

    I think that's everybody. Tony, the bar to being the best councilmember is pretty low given this group of clowns. As for accomplishments:

    1. TW kept Ward 6 intact in redistricting
    2. TW has continuously fought for development in the H street corridor - do you think, Tony, that there are more jobs on H now, or less?
    3. TW responds quickly and effectively to constituent concerns

    That's a partial list, sweetheart. While TW isn't the end all, be all, he's the best we have. Cheers!

  • Tom

    I dont know where all of the outrage comes from, no laws have been broken. As long as the money comes from the LLC's legally and not a $1000 loan from the primary company to the seondary llc, and then to a candidate its perfectly legal.

    If your mad at this you should be mad at local meet and greet events that raise a few dollars for candidates, and then suprisingly a speed hump, stop sign and speed camera gets put in the neighborhood! This is politics, you can always move to Greece!

  • tony

    @Rake, I will speak for myself and you can speak for yourself...If you are telling me that because Tommy Wells has not been accused of any wrongdoing that this qualifies him as the best councilmember we have, than I will tell you to go and crawl back into the cave from whence you come. Tommy Wells represents an area of the city which has seen one of the worst form of gentrification that one can ever imagine. And, maybe the white interlopers may see this as a good thing, but this African-American does not.

    Moreover, I contend that if Tommy Wells was scrutinized like his black counterparts that he too would be facing investigations after investigations.

    Lastly, your argument rest on the sick and racist belief that white politicians are more ethical and effective than black politicians. However, history tell us differently. In fact, history tells us that people with your skin color are the worst criminals that mankind has ever seen!

  • michaeliceman

    I have to partially agree with Tony and Tom on this one. Don't hate the players...hate the game. Aside from the fact that this is perfectly legal (and LL slips this in the article), this is how the game is played at all levels of American politics. It is hard to call out JT and the CM's when this is the way it is done and this is the way it always has been done. We may not like it...but it is what it is and it is not unique to DC.

    Did I mention that it was legal?

  • Respected Citizens

    We agree with michael and tony, either you give or don't receive.

    When it comes down to Wells, he truly advocates for his "guy-ass" constituents, who value robbing the needs of DC social reforms by securing a no where going Street car system, costing our city millions. Regretfully, dum-dum Gray brought into the bluff from tweeters & emails of this H street regime.

    I like Jeffrey Thompson and most of the CMs. And when they are wrong I share it directly over and over again.

    Now caucasians, you have been employing this system of providing revenue to your candidates of choice, long before it became apart of the Black agenda involvement, who were denied participating in the election process for decades.

    Do not forget that the "real" Leaders states how those on the bottom shall rise, and it's being done.

    What hurts, it that when your own actions are being protrayed by Blacks it becomes a violation of law for immediate imprisonment; however, when Nixon, the Bush men, Cheney, J Edgar (fag) Hoover, and many many other employed it they were wrong but no law of crime ws employed.

    Get over it, now "It's Our Turn," to give back what you've done.

    Go to Hell.

    Get a life.

  • seDCdude

    RAKE DA fake.........

    I see you are at your usual ARROGANT, POMPOUS, RACIST, IDIOTIC self!

    Your dumb ass would eat a WHITE MAGGOT if it had more disease than a brown rice in your bowl of grits!

    You are your own worse enemy fool bud! This is nothing new or illegal, all part of what we call the political spectrum and you know it GUMP!

    I told y'all 2 years ago that BLACKS needed to be careful as to how we persecuted our own and what means we would throw them under a bus, because the likes of RAKE are here and readily prepared to do just that with no regard, rhyme or reason to truth, just as long as they APPEAR to be in power or relevant!

  • Rake

    @Tony, last time responding, then you'll be on the ignore list as well. To wit:
    - If you are telling me that because Tommy Wells has not been accused of any wrongdoing that this qualifies him as the best councilmember we have, than I will tell you to go and crawl back into the cave from whence you come.

    As you'll note in my comment above, I stated several reasons why I think Tommy Wells is our best councilperson.

    - white intelopers

    Puh-leeze. This native washingtonian has lived in ward 6 for 33 years, not counting time away at school. Spare me.

    -Moreover, I contend that if Tommy Wells was scrutinized like his black counterparts that he too would be facing investigations after investigations

    Nice canard, but how do you know that Wells has not been scrutinzed as his counterparts have been? All councilmembers are subject to the same laws, and may be investigated by the same agencies...of course, that doesn't fit your baseless accusations, does it?

    -Lastly, your argument rest on the sick and racist belief that white politicians are more ethical and effective than black politicians...

    Oh, I get it. So I can speak for myself and you can speak for yourself, except when you get to tell me where my argument comes from?!?! Please explain, and for bonus points, tell me where I EVER stated anything like the above...

    The sad thing here is that those (tony, seDCdude) who continually cry race are the ones most in need of a good, long, look into their own beliefs.

  • Truth Hurts

    @ noodlez: you got a twisted mind extracting those words, dude. Remember "son of sam"? He, too, used to cut out unrelated words and string them together. Btw, "jail" wasn't mentioned; it's just your mind playing with you.

    Re Gray, you're right that I comment about him frequently. Don't like or trust him. The same is true about you and your comments regarding Fenty (you used that same tired "faggie fenty' line in comment #12). So what.

    The quote from Bereano is accurate, by the way.

  • Rake

    You know, the more I think about it - how did an innocent comment expressing an opinion as to who the best council member (in my opinion) is end up with all this rhetoric and angst - even anger?

    I'm outta here, for at least a while. Enjoy the summer, all.

  • seDCdude

    good riddance SNOW FLAKE!!

  • Calvin H. Gurley

    Ward 6 – Sharon Ambrose Gerrymandering;...

    10 years ago boundary change brought back segregation.

    That is why the second generation of City Council members [Chairman David Clark, a Howard U. graduate and a Caucasian, Wilhelmina Rolark, John Wilson, Frank Smith, Nadine Winter, Hilda Mason, and other civil rights hold-overs from the March on Washington] included coastal area of Anacostia [leading up GreenWay (East Cap. St) to the Panorama Room – all along Minnesota Avenue] into Ward Six. This was reversed by Ambrose.

    Why? Because the Good Hope Library (Marberry Plaza) voting precinct produced the largest voters turnout that could determine (with few votes from the remaining Black neighborhoods in OLD City, Rosedale, Authur Capper S.W.) who the Ward 6 Council person would be.

    Tommy Wells caters to Capital Hill proper folks/ Congressional aides and their families and friends. Folks in S.W. [Waterside Mall/ Tiber Island] are upset with the lack of response and concerns from Tommy Wells.

    Capitol Hill residents have their own Cluster School System and has expanded to Eastern H.S. (before this recent re-districting).

    BEST CANDIDATE… You chose –
    David Catania…Chairman of Health & Welfare is allowing D.C. to remain number ONE with the largest AIDS epidemic in the country. This includes Jim Graham former director of Whitman-Walker Clinic. Both from the Gay community.

    Likewise, Tommy Wells former School Board member allows for Rhee and Fenty's shenanigans and foolish experiments with our children’s education.

    1) who condemned Rhee and Fenty for wasting money on the fluke idea of PAYING CHILDREN TO “COME TO SCHOOL”? Not WELLS… he sat on his hands.

    2) Wells attended the meeting when well spoken children from Hardy School testified in Council chambers to have Principal Pope stay at the school. Children fighting for a principal ( good for future leadership) …WELLS failed the children.
    Hardy school received a part time Principal that showed up two days out of week and the remaining three days as principal at another school. This was crazy…and the Council and Wells allowed a principal to be part-time at two schools!!!!!

    3) Wash. Post, METRO, Friday, September 4, 2009 – 26-School D.C. Cheating Probe.
    Erasers made on our children standardized test. Wells did nothing as like the entire council.

    4) Ms. Henderson was interviewed by the council for the appointment as school chancellor, Wells or not one Councilmember request the release of the sealed report from CTB McGraw-Hill on the cheating scandal to get the truth of the deception.

    Every so many years…D.C. resident must CLEAN HOUSE at the Council Chambers. It is time that all Councilmembers are KICKED OUT OF OFFICE.

    D.C. residents are paying for the lost Federal Funds caused by the Council refusing to use their oversight powers to require D.C. Department Heads to properly and completely report financial spending of U.S. appropriated program funding. No Federal Block Grant Money.

    D.C. Residents…SPARE NO ONE…..on the council.

    Wake up Trusting Citizens.

    Calvin H. Gurley raised in Ward 6- Old City, Payne Ems., Hine Jr. H.S. and Eastern H.S. Former President of the Fairlawn Civic Association, Vice President of the Anacostia Orange Hats Patrol.
    Sister Carolyn former ANC Commissioner 6B OLD City.

  • http://www.curtisconcepts.com wayne

    This is an unfortunate reality of our system. Every now and then and article raises the issue, we act shocked, then it is business as usual. Our firm, with all its skills and background, cannot even get meetings with decision makers in the District, so we play in the national market.

    Guess we need to write some big checks? Maybe not.

    Oh yeah, the notion in one of the comments that blacks need to be careful about criticizing blacks is way old school.

  • CocoNutMilk

    They all look so very dirty, literally...maybe with the exception of Fenty (ironically). But they just look so cesspool-ish, very nasty. They need Clorox continually thrown on them. Whew, very nasty.

  • seDCdude

    Now RAKE what's your take....you fake ass flake with no stake in this community other than to shake and break what you choose to HATE because you fell way short of being GREAT and now must MISTAKE all blacks as being your houseMATE, I THINK NOT!!

    Mr. GURLEY it is always an honor and a pleasure to read and be privy to your knowledge!

    Would love to sit down and kick da bobo witch!!

    Ayy coocoonut, wrong blog...this ain't the BLADE!

  • tony

    @seDCdude, I thank a brother for holding it down, when it comes to that racist clown name RAKE...@Respected Citizens, you are right on time with your comment which I fully agree with. THIS CITY'S BLACK MIDDLE CLASS IS VERY STRONG AND WHEN PUSHED, WE CAN PUSH BACK VERY HARD...ASK MICHELLE RHEE AND OTHERS.

  • itsjustamess

    @Calvin Gurley - Though I gave you a hard time and a run for your money, truth is, you are always on-spot with your analysis and history of DC politics and affairs. There needs to be a political tsunami where the entire Council is taken out. In fact, the whole Wilson bldg should go below sea level.

  • Holdadice

    Who says TW hasn't been arrested?
    That's not what I understand, but I don't know enough to state for sure whether or not it's true CM T Wells was arrested on a dui.

    Really don't have time to play tonight, folks. But the name calling and the racist and homophobic comments do not solve the problems we have in Washington, DC and the entire US of A. Let's put on our collective thinking caps in an attempt to find solutions to the very real problems facing DC/US citizens.

    Silly me, these comments are probably the only outlet some of these myopic twits have. This short-sightedness is indicative of a genuine problem if this small sampling represents the citzenry of DC.

    Outta here for a minute, but I WILL return to torture a
    few dumb-dumbs.


    I do not support anyone breaking the law, but it seems like YOU PEOLPE always magnify minority DC official activities, but where were you when the Bush-Cheney cronyism relationship with Halliburton was live and well?

    2. BP OIL spill (Halliburton's faulty cement
    3. Cheney while in office still on Halliburton's payroll.
    4. In December 2010, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency charged current and former KBR and Halliburton executives — including former Vice President Dick Cheney, who at one time led Halliburton — in the bribery scheme. But the charges were dropped a few weeks later after Halliburton agreed to pay a $35 million settlement.

    Now spend your time investigating that.

  • Mike Madden

    @ DC NATIVE --

    We don't really cover the federal government, but if Dick Cheney ever gets a D.C. government contract, we'll be on top of it.

  • Credit

    Can people please recognize that Suderman broke this story! And that the Washington Post Editorial board which is so fond of chasing phantoms can barely bring itself to get involved in the widest ranging scandal the city has ever faced? There's a story in THAT if someone looks closely enough... folks the Post is deeply connected to the people who have been buying elections. Start here: http://www.federalcitycouncil.org/.

  • Ward 1 Voter

    Some of this stuff is legal, but some of it isn't, which is why DA Machen is issuing subpoenas and paying visits to homes and offices. All of the pay-to-play shenanigans should be illegal, and maybe would be if the CMs weren't with one or two exceptions on the take. It's like asking tattoo parlor owners how tattoo parlors should be regulated.

    The undercurrent of support for corrupt politicians here in the comments at LL is always kind of funny. I like to imagine that it comes from hangers-on who are intensely, professionally interested in this money flow continuing, and not private, disinterested citizens. As a liberal (albeit a snarky one), I fully support Medicaid and Medicare services for the poors and the olds. As a federal and District taxpayer, I definitely don't support Medicaid and Medicare money being diverted to lubricate the political machinery at the Wilson Building and to enrich Jeffrey Thompson and his cronies. It will make for a better-governed DC if/when pay-for-play and everyone who benefitted from that sordid hustle are flushed out. Even if it means the comments at LL become more boring.

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