Loose Lips

More Fun With Money Orders

Last year, when LL first started looking at medicaid contractor Jeff Thompson's political giving, At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, who is at the top of Thompson's money list, wouldn't return LL's calls. When the Washington Post did its own profile of Thompson a few weeks later, Orange told the paper, "I'm not talking about Jeff Thompson."

But after Thompson's home and offices were raided by the feds as part of an investigation into possible campaign finance violations, Orange had a change of heart. After a review of Thompson's contributions to his campaign in last year's special election, Orange said a number of donations linked to Thompson were "suspicious." Orange released copies of those suspicious money order donations to the Post, but ducked LL's requests for the same copies for a couple weeks. (LL was able to get some money orders on his own from the Office of Campaign Finance.)

LL was finally able to get a hold of all of Orange's money orders through a friend late Friday. A review certainly reinforces the notion that these donations are suspicious, but LL thought you should see for yourself, sweet readers.

First, let's look at six money orders from Thompson's various LLCs.  The money orders were bought in batches at two Western Union agents just minutes apart, around 7 p.m. on March 10, 2011. The signatures on the money orders looks identical to Thompson's signature on other city records.

Now let's look at four other money orders that were bought at the same stores at the same time as the Thompson-LLC-purchased money orders. The handwriting making the orders out looks very, very similar to the Thompson money orders, though the signatures look different. But LL's no handwriting expert, so see for yourself.

These first two money orders say they are from Ten 2 One Productions, an Los Angeles-based production company. The signature on the money orders appears to belong to Phil Thornton, a co-owner of Ten 2 One. Thornton's online bio says he's co-founder of Bright Star Entertainment, a frequent D.C. political contributor whose address is listed on campaign records as being the same as Thompson's D.C. accounting firm.

The same day these money orders were purchased, Thornton gave Orange's campaign $1,000 via credit card. Two other entities also gave $1,000 credit card donations from the same address as Thornton's L.A. home. One is Savannah Productions, a company owned by Thornton. The other is Dezman Humphrey, who lists himself in campaign finance forms as an engineer at Boeing. Reached for comment, Thornton told LL: "I told you the last time you called to leave me the fuck alone. Don't call me again."

The two donations above are from Edgar Sams, a recreation specialist at Columbia Heights Community Center. The handwriting, again, looks similar. He did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Sams' salary, which is public because he's a city employee, is $38,843 a year, which makes his $1,000 donation to Orange especially generous.

And here are three more suspicious money orders, all purchased from the same clerk at the same post office on the same day. (They're not signed, so LL can't play amateur handwriting analyst.) The money orders say they are from a security guard in Silver Spring, an interior design assistant in Atlanta, and the manager of a stationary store in San Francisco. None of the donors returned a call seeking comment. One of the givers, Alexia Butts, is the niece of Jeanne Harris, a long-time Thompson associate whose house was also raided by the feds.

  • Ron

    Judging from his tweets, this Dezman Humphrey guy, um, doesn't exactly sound like an engineer at Boeing.

  • Why Lie I Need A Beer

    From reading this article, I think Thompson is at fault more than Orange.

    If Thompson has a record of supporting campaigns across the country, I honestly do not see why anyone who doubt Thompsons fund-raising efforts.

    Also if your filing information before a deadline, the most your trying to is verify stuff like a name, address,and if you typed everything grammatically correct.

    I wish I could believe Biddle, Shapiro, or Holness is the better choice but they honestly arent.....

  • DCDem

    Isn't Vincent Orange supposed to be a lawyer AND an accountant? Even to a layman like myself, this is pretty clear evidence that the campaign accepted fraudulent contributions.

  • Why Lie I Need A Beer

    @DCDem are you suggesting that people like President Obama, Kasim Reed of Atlanta, Rushern Baker, Bill Clinton, and others have fraudulent activity going on in their campaign?

    Also, yes VO proclaims up and down he is a lawyer and accountant. OCF proclaims that they audit finance reports and sends you notices about questionnable transactions just an FYI.

    Now you arent saying that the OCF is lying and is incompetent when handling their job are you?

    Im pretty sure if the Law checks out your paperwork and said there were no problems, then you could continue to take care of your business...

  • NE John

    We should move to disbar Mr. O

  • Drez

    Agree with dcdem. This is shadey.

  • NE John

    We should move to disbar.

  • SEis4ME

    Isn't Vincent Orange supposed to be a lawyer AND an accountant? Even to a layman like myself, this is pretty clear evidence that the campaign accepted fraudulent contributions.

    Well sure. That's if Orange was running his own campaign to become the tenant association's president. But in every other significant political campaign, the principles don't handle money orders.

  • Drez

    Implausible deniability.

  • Why Lie I Need A Beer

    @SEis4ME exactly, unless your a rookie candidate running for election, no candidate is focused on anything else but the people and making sure their daily operations on the council are running smoothly.

    Do you honestly think Obama files all his campaign contributions himself?

    @NEJohn x @DCDem how long do you think it takes to input $100,000+ of contributions for a campaign?

    You probably spend the majority of the time reading small print, trying to decipher peoples handwritting, and making sure you can type at a moderate speed.

    If campaigns audited their own work, and confirmed the identity of their contributors, then at the deadline no one would file their finances except those who pulled money out of their own pockets.

    Thats what OCF is for.

  • Job

    Great job! Sigh...why is it that the City Paper is doing better investigations than the DC gov't?

  • Drez

    Oh my!
    Orange equals
    (not really)

  • Truth hurts

    No way Thompson and his network went to these lengths to funnel dough to Orange without his knowledge.

  • LOL

    Man. It is going to be an interesting election day. What happens if Orange wins but then has to vacate?

  • GR

    only one point:
    There are different rules for donating in other parts of the country. Saying that Jeff Thompson donated to campaigns all over the country has no bearing on his DC behavior. He is a huge city contractor, and gave shady contributions in DC. That's the story.

  • KeepinItReal

    Wow. Democrats in the District eat each other's young. I'm wondering if that divide runs along the lines of race. It appears that it does. I've often heard that the District is host to some of the most hateful racists posturing as "liberal progressives". And worse, some of the worst of them are a minority themseives; white gays.

    It isn't a wonder that residents in Wards 8 and 7 distrust the heavy handed approach of the newly arrived pioneers. They bring with them bad manners and disrespectful paternalism.

  • NaCl Plus

    If Orange did not come forth with information and details in the beginning I think this would be an issue. I just dont know if the other candidates are pound for pound better than him.

    Biddle had the chance to solidify his chances of being viewed as a legit candidate during those 4 months. He was told to sit down and be a nice doggy and in return no one really knows anything he did except hold the seat warm for Orange.

  • Sekou Catania

    I want to know what OCF is going to do about this? They did audit the finance reports and saw nothing wrong about these transactions. I think the people are somewhat blowing this outta proportion.

    Is there some type of reform for Presidential Campaigns? Im pretty sure everything that DC Voters are complaining about goes on in Presidential campaigns as well.

    What's more important? Addressing the issues or being the TMZ of Politics?

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  • city blues

    Unfortunateky, only 157 folks had voted so far in at my precint.

  • DC Tax Payer

    Thanks City Paper for the information. You made my decision to vote for Vincent Orange easier. We all want a politician who when bought, stays bought. Qrange is my man!

  • H Street Landlord

    $20 million is pocket change compared to what Thompson is involved in.

  • KeepinItReal

    I think a politician taking in 20 million from a contract that he voted to approve as a sitting councilman is quite significant. No need to do comparison shopping. 20 million is 20 million, partiularly for a city that is always staring at deficits.