Loose Lips

More on Jeff Thompson’s California Connections

Two columns ago, LL reported on the connection between D.C. Medicaid contractor Jeff Thompson, whom you all know is at the center of a federal investigation into campaign finance issues, and Proteus Spann, Thompson's Hollywood producer associate.

In that piece, LL noted political donations from what looked like two separate individuals linked to Spann.There were $2,000 worth of donations to Vincent Orange's at-large campaign last year from one of Spann's co-producers, Javon Johnson and his company JJ Productions. There were also three different donations to various pols worth $4,000 from someone using Spann's Los Angeles address named Tim Johnson. One of those donations was a $500 money order to Kelvin Robinson, whose unsuccessful race in the 2010 Ward 6 seat was heavily financed by Thompson's network of donors. The handwriting on Johnson's money order looks, to LL's untrained eye, almost identical to the handwriting on Spann's check to the same campaign.

Javon Johnson's publicist said he was too busy to speak with LL for that column. LL couldn't find any record of a Tim Johnson living at Spann's address, and Spann declined to answer any questions related to a Tim Johnson.

Well, a little record diving shows that, drumroll please, Javon Johnson and Tim Johnson are in fact the same person.

When Orange ran unsuccessfully for the D.C. Chairman's race in 2010, his campaign kept records of its donors, their phone numbers, their occupations, etc. LL was able to obtain some of these records, including notes related to the $1,500 donation from Tim Johnson, through a Freedom of Information Act request filed with the Office of Campaign Finance. The Orange campaign notes on Tim Johnson provide a Chicago-area phone number. When LL called it, the message at the end said "you  have reached Javon Johnson, please leave a message."

Mystery solved.

More interesting is who the Orange notes say is Javon/Tim Johnson's employer. The note says Johnson is an "entertainment manager" for "Cheatham."

LL is willing to bet a steak dinner that Cheatham refers to Clearance Cheatham, who along with his company, Cheatham, Green & Company, have donated $10,000 to several campaigns in a pattern that aligns almost identically with donations from Spann, Johnson, and the rest of the Thompson network of donors. LL's been trying to track down Cheatham since last year with no luck. His company is listed on one website as a Hollywood "talent manager."

One set of donations that catches the eye is the $6,000 Cheatham donated on a single day to Mayor Vince Gray's mayoral campaign. Gray's campaign finance report shows a $2,000 donation individual donation from Cheatham and a $2,000 donation from his company. But there's also a $2,000 donations from a "Clearance Cheatham" listed as a corporate donation. All three donations come from the same Sunset Boulevard address in Los Angeles. A California database of corporate registrations has no record of either Clearance Cheatham the company or Cheatham, Green & Company. The maximum allowable donation per entity, be it an individual or a corporation, is $2,000 for a mayoral race, so if the second $2,000 donation from Cheatham isn't from a separate company, that would seem to be over the limit.

LL asked OCF for copies of its records on the Gray campaign, but has been told they're unavailable as the campaign's currently under federal investigation.

One other Thompson-California connection who LL has already written about is Phil Thornton, a L.A. agent who has donated $28,000 as an individual and through his companies to local pols since 2006. Combined with the $37,000 worth of donations from Spann and those linked to him, that brings the Thompson network's California contribution in local races to at least $65,000 in the last six years.

  • Jim Ed

    Great work as always, Alan.

    So with summer indictment season coming up, when can we expect a column devoted to handicapping the federal prison derby? I've got my money on Gray with a June indictment and an 18 month plea deal.

  • InTheMixx

    It looks to me like the feds are investigating Jeff Thompson. In terms of criminal culpability is there any indication that any of the many local politicians named in this case knew that money they may have received may have been coming from, perhaps, the same source? Not opinion, not supposition, not enuendo, but evidence that they knew. Vincent Gray is denying any knowledge of campaign finance wrongdoing, I'll go with that until proven, legally, otherwise.

    Vincent Orange, according to this writer, openly acknowledged he may have received questionable money orders. Is it realistic or expected that politicians running for office know where every dime is coming from during the campaign? Are they expected to have a sensory perception that one person may be manipulating the system to influence election outcomes?

    I don't even want to think about how common this is in state and national elections.

  • barfly

    I would assume, though I've never worked on a campaign, that every campaign is aware of people who make the maximum donation and that the candidates are likely updated on this information as well.

  • DJ Ren

    As someone who has participated in Fundraising Campaigns for non-profit institutions with some regularity, believe me, every campaign (political/apolitical) is keenly aware of those who make the largest (or maximum) donations, and that awareness extends to every level of the organization.

    For someone who prided (prides) himself on being a detail oriented "wonk", sure seems like Vince was/is in the dark a lot of the time - or at least that's been his public stance.

    Jim Ed, will be interesting to see if you are correct.

    @ITM, Thompson is a means to the Fed's end.

  • Prtty Gurrl

    Can't they hire Suderman at OCF? Problems solved.

  • gitchafaxstr8

    HO HUM!!!
    HOW BORING!!!
    IF THOMPSON IS GUILTY OF ANYTHING, IT'S PLAYING ALL ENDS TO GAIN FAVORITISM FROM ALL WINS!!!

    IS THE ENTIRE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA GOING TO GET INVOLVED IN ALL OF THE POLITICAL CAMPAIGN BUNDLING GOING ON???

    IF SO, THEN THE ONLY CANDIDATES WHO ARE SAFE ARE THE SUPER WEALTHY LIKE BLOOMBERG AND THE LITTLE DUDE WHO DANCED WITH HIS WIFE ON STAGE A FEW YEARS AGO. AND LET'S NOT FORGET THE OTHERS WHO FINANCED THEIR OWN CAMPAIGNS.

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