Loose Lips

VO Says He’s In the Clear, But He’s Not

At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange appeared on Newstalk with Bruce DePuyt today to proclaim that he's completely free of any taint associated with the illegal activity that took place on Mayor Vince Gray's 2010 campaign.

Specifically, Orange said a preliminary audit by the Office of Campaign Finance of donations tied to Medicaid contractor Jeff Thompson had cleared Orange of any wrongdoing. Orange called for this review after Thompson's home and office were raided by the feds, and reporters started asking Orange about the large amounts of donations, especially in the form of money orders, he's received from Thompson.

"My records are clear and I'm moving on," Orange said today. In a news release last night, Orange said the preliminary audit represented a "victory."

Hmm, maybe not so much. Says OCF spokesman Wesley Williams: "Those are the words of the councilmember, the audit is not complete."

When pressed on Newstalk about the money orders that Orange himself had once said were "suspicious and questionable," Orange said he no longer has concerns about those contributions. He said the campaign correctly documented whose names were on those money orders, their occupations, their addresses, and so forth, and "that's where my responsibility ends."

He also noted that OCF has reviewed his campaign four times and found no wrongdoing: "It's been examined to death."

Yeah, that's also not really true.

When Orange handed in his first campaign finance report for the 2011 election, OCF staff reviewed the donors and found many donations were coming from similar addresses. As is standard protocol, OCF then asked Orange for copies of the checks and money orders of all the donations that shared an address with other donors. That's the extent of the review: to make sure that the checks actually came in from the people listed on the report. There's no search of bank records or interviews with any of the donors to make sure that campaign laws weren't being broken—for instance, in a straw donation scheme.

That kind of work is actually being done by federal law enforcement officials. And anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to what they're up to knows that when the feds started diving into the bank records of Jeanne Clarke Harris, a long time associate of Thompson's and a frequent contributor to Orange's campaigns, they found all sorts of illegal activity.

In court last week, Harris admitted to using Thompson's money to make $44,000 worth of straw donations to Gray's 2010 mayoral campaign. She also admitted to being a straw donor in federal races. Harris would have her companies, friends, family, and employees give money to candidates, then reimburse them with Thompson's money, she said in court. She added that none of her straw donor associates had the means to make those contributions themselves. And at a news conference after Harris' guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Ron Machen said Harris' straw donor schemes have been going on since 2001.

Which brings us back to Orange, whose 2011 campaign received thousands of dollars from Harris' companies, family members, and employees, some in the form of money orders. Just a quick glance at Orange's campaign records shows two $1,000 checks from Harris' companies, three $1,000 money orders from Harris' sister and nieces, a $1,000 money order from Harris' mother, and a $1,000 check from one of her employees. Most of those same donors are listed as contributors to Gray's campaign. Harris has declined to comment, and her associates did not return calls seeking comment.

Orange may have clearly documented the details of those donors, but that hardly puts his campaign in the clear. And Orange may be ready to move on, but voters shouldn't—until they get a full explanation as to whose money was funding Orange's campaign.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • And Another One…

    My goodness.. Are there any other council members worth talking about besides Orange? We give him more attention than we give the real criminals in this city. I'm tired of checking this website everyday and there is something about him. Let his monkey behind run around and boast about clearing the OCF audit, we still will not vote his arrogant ass in as Mayor!

  • Bert

    Let's send VO back to Pepco, where he belongs!

  • Truth hurts

    The lede is spot on. VO's far from being cleared of sketchy campaign acts.

  • Sally

    He's the best! At bullshitting people.

    What an ass clown.

  • Frank Lee Mahdear

    Yeah, this is what I figured. Orange is THE BEST at puffing himself up. I'd have voted for Michael Brown over him too.

  • noodlez





  • capitol hill

    Not not guilty. Mr Orange was quoted in the Post referring to himself as "Mr. Orange". Christ, who does that?

  • joan

    Michael Brown over Vincent Orange any day.

  • RealDC

    LOL. All of these mofos are cruddy. Orange is just a west coast bama with his. But saying you would vote Brown over Orange, is just laughable. Brown has plead guilty to campaign hanky panky, pays his property tax after it is written about in the paper, gets a tax lien every other year, gets a suite at the Verizon Center and does not pay for it, leaves his wife for his gf, then gets back with wife to run for office, then rolls out again, wait your right... Brown over Orange, anytime, LOL. Yes, Brown please bring back iGaming, you are the man.LOL.

    Orange is still the best candidate for Mayor in 2014.

  • RealDC

    What about Phil Mendelson's 13 checks from Jeanne Harris? She gave them to him the day before the primary. What, no ink for the Council Chair?

  • joan

    Orange for Mayor? Lol...He'd be a total disaster if ever elected Mayor!

  • Mark

    I can't wait until something finally sticks on him, the arrogant buffoon.

  • name

    Orange is for sale to any bidder, is a blowhard and is dumber than a box of nails, but I hardly think anything he's done so far is criminal. If people want to vote for a PEPCO stooge, that's their right and they can suffer the appropriate consequences at rate renewal season.

    I agree that if he reported it, it's up to BOE(E) to investigate and make recommendations. It's not his campaign's responsibility to do a detailed analysis of all contributors per DC laws. (That said, the DC Democratic Committee, of which Orange is a Super Delegate, more or less makes the rules to suit their own ends and consolidate their own power).

    Michael Brown may be a less transparent slime, but he's actually a convicted felon slime.

  • DC

    VO needs to get off his high horse. He was the lobbyist for Pepco. Remember them, the jerks who make millions off of us yet refuse to pay to modernize their system by putting power cables underground? Yeah, VO is part of the machine that keeps your lights off when things go bad.

    Not just a part of it, a PROUD part of it. Best candidate for mayor in 2014? Yeah, mayor of idiotland. If you thought Gray brought in some iffy types, wait until you see the disaster that would be an Orange administration.

  • lioneagle

    Greetings -

    Tick, Tick, Tick

  • RealDC

    Holmes Norton received $50K from Thompson and Harris. LOL. Everybody in DC politics are lazy, dumb and crooked.

    Harris and Thompson were needed by the DC POLS. LOL

  • NAL 1950

    I live on the same street as Orange, his lights always go off when the power is out.

    So for all you dickheads who say he has Pepco connections please jump off a bridge.

    Someone also wrote on here that Orange used to work for WP. Can one of you idiots tell me what benefits he has received from them? I can count on my fingers how many times the WP has written an article giving the guy his props. Yo idiots have a lot of hate for Orange but no clear evidence as to why. I guess when your not as lucky as Mary Cheh was marrying a NY Times Writer, you dont have the support of the media. You dont have the full protection of the Media Gods. Im sure Cheh's husband makes sure the Washington Post will never write a bad story about her!!

    You make your assumptions based off what Suderman writes which is crazy.

    @DC you got to be the dumbest person on here if you honestly think Orange controls whose lights go on and off. So obviously having a storm and powerlines being knocked down, you must think Orange can snap his fingers and turn on certain property lights. Pepco represents Maryland and Virginia as well, so how on earth do you think one man has enough power to control that much electricity? Do you even realize how much man power and time it takes to repair damaged lines and the safefty precautions you have to take? You should really think about the retarded stuff you say out of your mouth!

    Harry Thomas: Stole Money from the youth, in jail
    Kwame Brown: Stole money, had sex with a side chick and his wife caught him, Fully Loaded Series
    Michael Brown: Has not paid taxes in a while

    Orange ? ? it's pretty tough to call out a Lawyer and Tax Accountant so you let Alan pull that wool over your head and fill your mind with these crazy Article Titles and one-sided information.

    Alan why not write an article as to why the council is scared to ban outside employment? Write about how Harry Thomas, Marion Barry, and Kwame Brown walked into the Dems Special election when Biddle was selected and how those three were threatening to take away contracts if the members voted for Orange.

    I pray Suderman knows something we dont because if the OCF issues a statement confirming his is good to go, Suderman is going to catch HELL FOR IT!!

  • Wipe Me Down

    lol someone needs to take a chill pill seriously, everyone is so hostile today.

    Any other interesting things happening in the city besides OCF foolishness?

    Have any councilmembers done anything noteworthy within the past month we as DC residents can atleast be proud of?

  • Frank Lee Mahdear

    Have any councilmembers done anything noteworthy within the past month we as DC residents can atleast be proud of?

    I heard that Muriel Bowser finally made it through Level 15 on Angry Birds. That count?

  • American Rogue

    @ Real DC -

    Good points!!!