Loose Lips

Who Got Straw Donor Cash?

As LL noted at the end of this week's column, Jeanne Clarke Harris' admitted campaign corruption extends far beyond Mayor Vince Gray. U.S. Attorney Ron Machen said this week that she's been running a straw donor scheme to circumvent legal limits on campaign giving since 2001. It takes about 30 seconds on the Office of Campaign Finance's website to see that Harris and various entities associated with her have given to just about everybody who is anybody in District politics.

In court on Tuesday, Harris admitted to giving $44,000 worth of straw donations to the Gray campaign in 2010. All of that money came from Medicaid contractor Jeff Thompson (whose vast political giving LL was the first to report on) and was funnel to the campaign through Harris' friends, her family members, and her two companies Details International and Belle International. The donors would make the contribution and be listed on official forms as having given it; Thompson would reimburse them, putting his total contributions far beyond what the laws allow.

Leaving aside the friends and family members for a second, here's a list of pols, besides Gray, who have received money from those two companies:

  • Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander
  • Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry
  • Former City Administrator and School Board President Robert Bobb
  • Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser
  • Former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown
  • At-Large Councilmember Michael Brown
  • At-Large Councilmember David Catania
  • Former D.C. Council Chairman and mayoral candidate Linda Cropp
  • Former Mayor Adrian Fenty
  • Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham
  • Former Ward 7 and at-large council candidate Mark Long
  • D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson
  • At-large Councilmember Vincent Orange
  • Former City Administrator and Ward 6 candidate Kelvin Robinson
  • Former At-Large Councilmember and mayoral candidate Carol Schwartz
  • Ward 4 Candidate Doug Sloan
  • Former Ward 5 Councilmember and current federal prison inmate Harry Thomas Jr.
  • Former Mayor Anthony Williams

Exactly how much each of these politicians got from Harris and her associated companies or people, of course, is hard to figure out; that's the point of using the straw donations.

Were all the donations from these two companies straw donations? It's certainly possible; almost every donation from those two companies came at the same time in the same amount (the maximum allowed by law) as other donations from Thompson, his companies, or some other entity in his vast network of donors. On the day before the primary in 2010, Mendelson received at least 13 donations of $1,000 each from Thompson's network, including Harris' companies, Thompson's companies, Thompson's employees and family members, campaign finance records show. In court records, the feds say when Thompson threw a fundraiser he would "direct Harris to obtain contribution checks" from her friends, family, and employees, then reimburse them with Thompson's money. Thompson would take the checks and give them to the politicians personally.

Did the politicians know what was going on? That's the rub.

As Catania noted yesterday when he called for the mayor to resign, Thompson is the type of contributor who wants politicians to know how much money he is giving them. Thompson made a lot of money off of city contracts, and it was in his best interest to let politicians know how helpful he could be to their campaigns. But LL has seen copies of some Harris-related donations, and there's nothing at first blush that would indicate anything out of the ordinary. Anyway, as Gray said yesterday at a news conference, it's not always possible for a candidate to pore over every check that comes into a campaign. So it's perfectly plausible that pols were unaware that anything amiss with donations coming from Harris.

Now whether they should have known better is an entirely different question.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • TB

    The City Paper recorded in March that O'Malley in Maryland got $80,000 in one day from Thompson associates. Looks like it stretches beyond the confines of Eastern, Western and Southern Aves.

  • Name

    No, no, no. What we want to know now is what the CASH BOUGHT?

    DCBOEE now DCBOE is starting to look really structurally deficient having mayoral appointments as it's leaders. It's nothing but a rubber stamp for the OLD GUARD.

  • RealDC

    LOL.

    So how can Catania and Bowser even open their mouths to call for Gray to resign?

    Shut up and CHECK YOUR OWN CAMPAIGNS! All are dirty!

    This is the worst council, ever!!

  • Wait, What?

    Hmmm. Still one council member absent from the Thompson related money list... who could it be?

    - Hint - it's not Jack Evans.

  • truth hurts

    Doesn't look like Kathy Patterson (who Gray defeated for council chair in 2006) received straw donations.

  • noodlez

    MAYOR GRAY HANDLE YOUR THUG DIZZLE!

    I'M SICK OF ALL THESE OVER ZEALOUS TWITS BACKED BY CLOSET RACISTS AND RUNAWAY GAYS THINKING THEY CAN JUST WALTZ UP IN HERE AND CALL SOME SHOTS.

    YOO HOO!
    WE SEE YOU!

    IT'S TIME TO TAKE Y'ALL HATS & COATS AND LEAVE.
    THIS INCLUDES GAYTANIA, EVANS AND WELLS.

  • umis habit hummm

    THUG DIZZLE??? Damn noodlez. I thought I'd heard it all.
    Bet even Gray had to chuckle at that one.

  • NOODLEZIMPOTENTFOOL

    Sad little one city black bigots. All your heros are toast. Welcome back control board, or governance that will feel very much like it. As far as chocolate city goes: its over.

  • http://btolson1@verizonnet.com Susan

    So was Vince Gray the only dumb ass that did not report it?

  • “Bring That Ball, Meat!”

    The rot extends deep into every crevise of DC and Maryland government, where pay to play is the norm. I'm mobving to a desert island.

  • John NE

    I kind f feel sorry for noodles. Such blind faith can be disheartening and cruel.

  • 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

  • noodlez

    YO JOHN NE DON'T FEEL SORRY FOR ME. MOST NATIVE WASHINGTONIANS I KNOW ARE SOLDIERS AND WE FOLLOW OUR LEADERS UNTIL THEY FALL FOR WHATEVER REASON. I’M NOT SOME WISHY-WASHY FLUNKY WHO TREMBLES AT THE THOUGHT OF GOING DOWN FOR THE CAUSE. MAN UP PUNK!

    ALL THOSE BAMMAS CALLING FOR MAYOR GRAY TO RESIGN ARE PROBABLY FROM OUTSIDE THE DIAMOND AND BECAUSE THEY STUCK THEIR RATTY FLAG IN THE GROUND ON SOME OVERPRICED CONDO THEY THINK WE ARE GOING TO JUST LAY DOWN AND FOLLOW THE BEAT TO THEIR DRUM. WHERE THEY DO THAT AT?

    YOU NEED TO FEEL SORRY FOR YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU ARE THE ONE HOPING AND WISHING MAYOR GRAY FULFILLS YOUR DREAM BY RESIGNING. SO YOU KNOW OF WHICH YOU SPEAK!

    WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS TAKE A WALK DOWN FLA AVE TOWARDS GEO AVE AND SEE, FEEL AND SMELL THE CITY AND ASK FOLK WHO IS THEIR MAYOR. YOU ARE THE ONE WITH BLINDERS ON FOCUSED ON YOUR PIGEON HOLE THAT MYOPIC TWITTY'S CREATED FOR YOU.

    THESE SHENANIGANS CREATED BY GREEDY FOLK DID IN NO WAY SWING THE ELECTION IN FAVOR OF MAYOR GRAY. THE DUST UP SURROUNDING THIS ISSUE IS BEING CREATED BY FOLKS WITH HIDDEN AGENDAS, OPEN AGENDAS AND CERTAIN MEDIA OUTLETS FOR CLICKS, MONEY AND EXPOSURE.

    THE CITY IS RUNNING JUST FINE. SINCLAIR SHITSTAIN AND YUCKMOUTH MOTEN HAVE BEEN REPLACED BY GAYTANIA AND EVANS SO WE WILL CROSS THAT BRIDGE WHEN WE GET TO IT.

    OTHER THAN THAT JUSTITIA OMNIBUS HOMEY!

    ONE CITY.

  • John NE

    He'll be out in six days.

  • seDCdude

    Ayy John NE

    and those who look, act, think and smell, YES smell like you coward ass DOUCHEBAGS, if not, can you promise to pack up and get out on the 7th day??

  • umis habit hummm

    @John NE: One down and five to go. Where you goin' if you decide to pack up?

  • http://btolson1@verizonnet.com Susan

    How much did each of them receive

  • umis habit hummm

    @John NE: Two down and four to go. Please tell me you're a John of your word.

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