Loose Lips

VO’s Shadow Exposure

As LL just noted, there are several D.C. councilmembers who received campaign donations from Jeanne Clarke Harris, who admitted Tuesday to running a straw donor scheme funded by Medicaid contractor Jeff Thompson.

It's difficult, for now, to calculate how much straw money Harris may have given to local pols besides Mayor Vince Gray, whose 2010 mayoral campaign Harris admitted to giving $44,000 in Thompson money using 16 associates as straw donors. U.S. Attorney Ron Machen said Harris has been a part of straw donations since 2001, but didn't identify who the straw donors were other than to say they are Harris' friends, family members, companies, and their employees.

But it is possible to get a broad idea of how much money Thompson and his vast network of donors, which includes Harris and her associates, have given over the years. In fact, LL's already done so, twice. And there's no contest in terms of which sitting councilmember has received the most money from Thompson and his vast network of donors: Vincent Orange. At last count, LL found that the Thompson network had given Orange at least $115,000. (Though in fairness, Orange has also run for office more often than the rest of the council.)

After the FBI raided Thompson's home and office in March, Orange succumbed to media pressure and released a batch of donations Thompson gave Orange's 2011 campaign in the special election for the at-large seat he won. Upon further review, Orange said, he found the Thompson-tied donations suspicious and questionable and called for the Office of Campaign Finance to review the donations. Orange has always denied any wrongdoing related to that campaign's finances. LL has already posted several stories about those suspicious donations, including donations from Thompson's masseur, caterer, and Hollywood producer partner. There's also the three money orders that were purchased from same clerk at the same post office on the same day but purport to be from a security guard in Silver Spring, an interior design assistant in Atlanta, and the manager of a stationary store in San Francisco.

But the donations aren't Orange's only exposure to the kind of corrupt campaign finance drama that's engulfed the mayor. Besides being the biggest receipient of Thompson campaign money on the council, Orange has ties to the major players in the Gray shadow campaign federal prosecutors say was running afoul of all sorts of campaign finance laws. Harris spent part of election day 2011 at Orange's campaign headquarters smoking a cigarette, according to a campaign aide who was there. (The no-nonsense septuagenarian Harris is known to smoke where she pleases.)

Vernon Hawkins, a major coordinator of the shadow effort, was a top adviser to Orange during the 2011 campaign. Orange even thanked Hawkins, calling him "one of the top strategists in town," when he was sworn into the council after the 2011. As it just so happens, Hawkins was at Orange's 2012 campaign headquarters when news broke that the FBI was raiding Thompson's home and office and Harris' home, according to another campaign aide. Hawkins'  face turned "ashen" immediately after he heard of the raid, the aide says.

Thompson's attorney has a policy of not commenting on the investigation. Hawkins has not returned calls seeking comment. And Harris declined to speak with LL.

So what does Orange make of all these connections? He's also not talking, and has not returned multiple requests for comment made in the last couple days. Something tells LL that may not be the best long-term political strategy.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • DC Guy

    Orange has a Thompson problem. It is time for both Vinces to go.

  • umis habit hummm

    Bet I know who the campaign office snitch is.

  • race is fun for the whole family

    New slogan: One City With Two Less Vinnies.

    Send em both to jail.

  • VO

    I am the best!

  • Ward 4 Voter

    I can't stand fat bull frog looking Vincent Orange. He's a childish loser.

  • John NE

    Jabba the Hut smokes where he pleases too

  • Typical DC BS

    I bet Harris' face turned "ashen" when he found out sugar daddy Thompson had been raided. Probably a different organ was puckering up too.

  • capitol hill

    @umishabithummanahummana

    what a lame attitude you have. whoever leaked this about Vincent Orange is a hero!

  • SimplytheBest

    Hey Cheh, Bowser and Catania when are you calling for Vo to step aside?

    Lookee here Jaffe this election was bought by Jeff T too!Do over? 1/3 of Gray $ and 1/3 of Orange $ all from JT!

    Jeannie said hire my boy Long at 75K a year and Ill make sure you win while the GGW crowd blamed Shapiro! HA!

    I bet Adrian and Sekou are somewhere having a big laugh
    about this!

  • Mary-Austin

    Hey Hey Ho Ho
    Vincent Orange got to go!

  • BiteMe

    @Ward4Voter he beat Biddle twice and exposed the hell out of Kwame Brown even when the establishment showed their loyalty to both dudes. Im pretty sure VO can take being a childish loser over wearing a jumpsuit that compliments his last name lol

  • Pancho

    Lol

  • Drez

    Not looking good for Orange, but so far Kwame is the crook and not him.
    I'd still choose him over M Brown.

  • Pancho

    LL when are you going to do a story on david-catania he got money too lol

  • Truth hurts

    Pretty sure orange followed gray's template.

  • Southside

    ahaha @Drez are you eating Mary Cheh's box or something? If you still pick a certified crook (Michael Brown) over Orange, I would never trust your judgement lol

  • Wait, What?

    Southside, how about you actually READ what drez wrote? SMH...

  • deedle

    What about Fenty's 2006 campaign? That's what I'm curious about.

  • james

    Gray,
    If you resign over this you were never man enough to hold the office. Grow a "pair!". The arrogance of these people to ask you to resign is impressive as well. Man up Mayor and call these hypocrites out!! These newspapers did not support you anyway!!!!
    J

  • speaker of truth and honesty

    Since we are talking about Vincent Bernard Fried Chicken Eating Orange, Jr aka I'm the Best at eating watermellon we should look at his connections. How come no one wants to talk about how Vincent Bernard Orange, Jr is in trouble now for getting unemployment checks from the city while being employed. The best part is that he actually worked for Thompson at Charter Health.

    How about we look at the fact that Orange has been investigated multiple times by ocf for violations including being fined during his last run for ward 5.

    Or how about the fact that his mayoral campaign was under investigation for reporting and financial issues and the person who was Treasurer, Ayawna Chase was the same person who ran Harry 'Tommy' Thomas office and campaign and helped him steal hundreds of thousands from the city.

    Or better yet how about we look at the fact that he is a lawyer and cpa as he loves to throw out but only was cautious about the numbered money orders. Better yet, he only called for an investigatio after he got caught with his hand in the bucket of chicken (he prefers chicken over cookies). This dude is as slippery as a fat person's but after running a marathon in a rubber suit.

  • AM Next

    Editor --

    At the end of the fourth paragraph: stationery store, not stationary store.

    And one other thing: sure miss Lydia's blog.

    Have a great weekend!

  • capitol hill

    Wonder if Orange will lose his job at Pepco when he gets indicted?

  • John NE

    Ribit

  • Jay Holt

    @capitol hill VO resigned from Pepco when he ran against Kwame Brown in 2010...people please stop spreading lies....

  • KeepinItReal

    Orange will be fine. Thompson is not the Koch Brothers but you whities seem to have no problem with them buying the government. Liberal District Progressives = Pussified bigots.

  • http://letschange.org Respected Citizens

    Technically, a new slate of Councilmembers and Mayor are now overdue.

  • umis habit hummm

    capitol hill is a "wanna be" royal pain in the ass.
    I wish LL/MM hadn't put my message to capitol hill in moderation.

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