Loose Lips

VO and Those “Suspicious” Money Orders

Thanks a lot, Jo-Ann Armao! The Washington Post editorial writer has been hounding Councilmember Vincent Orange about $1,000 money orders his 2011 campaign received from donors with ties to fat cat donor Jeff Thompson. (Thompson's home and office were recently raided by the feds as part of a probe into possible campaign finance violations.)

Orange has denied similar requests from other reporters and his challengers in this year's at-large primary, but must have a soft spot for Armao. In today's Post, Orange says that after reviewing the money orders in question, he found some that he thinks are "suspicious and questionable as to who actually paid for the money orders." Orange showed the Post some of the orders, and the paper's editorial noted that "some checks, ostensibly from different donors, have seemingly identical signatures. Sequential serial numbers on others suggest purchases made at a single time and place, possible signs that the orders were used to shield straw-man donations."

All interesting stuff, but while everyone else was clamoring for Orange to release his money orders, LL went down to the Office of Campaign Finance last week and managed to get copies of many of them.

It turns out that the auditing division of OCF asked Orange last year to supply copies of checks, credit card receipts, and money orders of several donors, many of them who are part of Thompson's donor network, who shared the same address. What's in those records? LL needs to save some for his column for this week's paper, but below are copies of a series of donations that may be what Orange meant by "suspicious."

They belong to Lee Calhoun and his family members. Calhoun works at Thompson's accounting firm, Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates, and is a frequent giver to D.C. politicos. Calhoun and his wife each wrote Orange a $1,000 check for his campaign. Four other family members donated the same amount, but used money orders. Calhoun confirmed that the names in the below money orders are family members but declined to give specifics. When LL started asking questions, Calhoun said, "I'm busy. Thank you," and hung up the phone. He did not return a call seeking additional comment.

What makes the donations slightly suspicious is the fact that the writing on the four money orders appears to be similar, if not identical, to the writing on Calhoun's personal check. LL's no handwriting expert, but you can judge for yourself below. Additionally, two postal money orders, one for a family member listed as having a Silver Spring address and one listed as a D.C. resident, came from the same clerk at the same post office on the same day. Their serial numbers are almost sequential.

Look at the money orders and checks after the jump.

Here's a look at Calhoun's personal check:

Here are the two postal money orders from Calhoun's family members:

Here are the two additional money orders from family members:


None of this is proof of any wrongdoing. But if Orange himself is calling donations to his campaign suspicious and questionable, then these might be worth a closer look.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Rough Draft

    "Who, me?" Vincent Orange replies with a big old grin much in the manner of a six-year-old caught with his hand stuck in the cookie jar.

    And this from the man who for years has run his campaigns touting his accomplishments as an accountant and a lawyer. And this is the man who had managed to dodge (until a three weeks before the primary) Office of Campaign Finance requests for information regarding $26,000 in suspicious money-order contributions -- a request that they made of him LAST year. And this is the man who only decided to turn over SOME of this information once The Washington Post editorial board called him on it. In print. And, moreover, this is the man who is apparently running for re-election to an at-large Council seat only so he can run for mayor in two years.

    Mr. Ethics has some serious lapses in judgement -- and perhaps in law -- in his past and, it would certainly seem, in his present. Another angel with a dirty face.

    Catch wise, people. If we are stupid enough to fall for Vincent Orange's shenanigans again this time around, we actually deserve everything we get. Throw this bum out.

  • neighbor

    People also generally include NW or NE when they write their address. Especially if they actually live in the unit block (Seaton place NE and NW are only a block apart and easily get confused if quadrant isn't indicated). Doubly suspicious when both persons in question forget this...

  • @SamuelMoore

    It's busy season... of course an accountant at a CPA firm is going to be too busy to talk...

  • DConfidential

    Have these individual contributed to previous Orange campaigns or other elected-officials campaigns?

    I think its time to call in the Feds, oh wait they are already here.

  • SEis4ME

    He'll likely win again. I know I'll be voting for him.

  • NE John

    fat-nose orange peel will be singing the blues come election day

  • Joan

    Seis4ME, you need your brain examined if you do. Maybe before you vote for him you should have it done.

  • John

    Seis4ME, great. Nothing like voting for a later Special Election after he's indicted.

  • Barrie Daneker

    i'll be voting for VO too!

  • NE John

    We are such a retarded city

  • SEis4ME

    @Joan, no one has really made an argument against Orange. Saying that he worked for Pepco doesn't really amount to much.

    But thanks though, I don't need my head examined. I would suggest that for anyone who votes for Biddle or Shapiro.

  • My2cents

    @SEis4ME I agree, people never have anything bad to say about Orange. If someone gives you a donation at an event or for your campaign, of course your going to add it to the bank and count it. Thats why we have OCF that monitors your records and audits them. If they did not raise questions, regardless of how you may feel about them, OCF accepts the records and keeps it moving.

    None of the other candidates can see Orange and pound for pound he is a better politician than the others and has actually done something for the community. That Emancipation Day holiday is really important to the citizens and if he didnt bring that awareness, we would have never known about it.

    Orange will win, he showed the records, and stated that there are questions about the money orders, outside of those money orders, Oranges records are good. So stop the whinning and drop your personal FEELINGS and make a realistic vote

  • Anti-DC

    Well well well......Orange had to cough up the records. Now that he has that out of the way, are the other two candidates strong enough to beat him?

  • Joan

    @SEis4ME & My2cents, stop defending this loser and pound for pound he's got them both beat, VO needs to lose some weight. So stop sugar coating this man.

  • OllieSeymore

    DC Wake Up.....all of current Council and the Mayor are crooks! They all should be going to jail. I am so sad how things are going down....it makes the city look crazy!

    DO NOT VOTE THESE FOOLS BACK IN OFFICE! We can do better! It is a shame these people are in office.....Especially those Ward 7 fools: Mayor Vince "Skeletor: One City Fool" Gray, CM Kwame "Short Man: theft and liar" and CM Yvette "Ms. Pig Feet: Walmart lover" Alexander! We can do better!

    Glad this drama is hitting the news before the elections.....maybe this will shake things up just in time for the April 3 primary!

  • DCDem

    I am voting for Vincent Orange because I don't like the alternatives. He is, at least, competent. Unlike Ward 7 Councilwoman Yvette Alexander.

  • http://btolson1@verizonnet.com Victoria

    I am not certain Vincent Orange has done anything to date that represents protection to the City. At least, Biddle can help unravel the mess of dcps.

    Before anyone decides can someone tell me how many staff members of Vincent Orange worked for Jeff Thompson?

    VO sells to the highest bidder.... And the ego!!!!

  • Non Liberal Democrat

    I am not voting for Muriel Bowser, Michael Brown, Vincent Orange, and none of the candidates running against these lying and corrupt losers. I will write in NONE OF THE ABOVE on April 3, 2012. I am disgusting with lying, corrupt, and self serving politicians.

  • SEis4ME

    @My2cents, yes and that's the problem. This is more "clique'ish" than Orange is an ineffective At-Large member.

    @Joan, sure Orange can stand to lose some weight. But while he's working on that, why don't you try to bathe. Women should do that regularly you know..or else.

  • Head in the sand

    "No one has made an argument against Orange"; OK, here’s one Jeffery Thompson not a Council Member, but he controls one.
    Orange gets 1000.00 contributions from people and he doesn't not even call and thank them individually?
    We need councilmembers who are not beholden to special interests. Sekou Biddle is the right choice.

  • NE John

    Gee Victoria, aren't there alternatives to consider?

  • NE John

    I meant non-liberal democrat instead of Victoria

  • SEis4ME

    I didn't know that politicians routinely called to thank people who gave..even maxed out to their campaigns. That's a different take on reality for sure.

    Sekou Biddle is the right choice if you don't expect him to serve the duration of his term.

  • City Dude

    I don't know if Lee Calhoun is the same guy who worked for Gandhi..I believe the story at the time was he was fired..Lee Calhoun also worked on Mayor Gray's campaign..Now I can see why Gandhi was about to be dumped by Mayor and you would have had Lee Calhoun as the CFO!!??

  • Non Liberal Democrat

    @NE John; hell no. None of the candidates running against the incumbents are worth voting for. Politics and politicians have become so corrupt over the years. They do serve the voters. I am disgusted and I will write in NONE OF THE ABOVE. None of the Ward 4 candidates aren't worth voting for. D.C. is too liberal and too far to the left. However, I am not a conservative either. I am liberal on some issues and conservative on others and in the middle on some issues. I support gay marriage. However, I don't support illegal immigration and D.C. being a sanctuary city to illegal aliens.

    Ward 4 Voter

  • Non Liberal Democrat

    Correction: Politicians don't serve the voters.

  • Drez

    LOL is Orange running for Council Chair or Mayor?

  • Anti-DC

    lol still no evidence that Orange is not the best candidate out of the rest.

    And didnt the story start off with Vincent GRAY and Thompson, Gray is the one who is really in trouble, but because that story is a broken record the media makes someone who ISNT CORRUPT and gave up the records is not worthy of a vote lol ahahahaha

    Votes will never serve in the best interest of the people because yall fools vote with your heart and not your mind