Are You Sure About That, Eleanor?
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said today that she doesn't think any of the donations she's received from Jeff Thompson, the man allegedly behind Vince Gray's shadow campaign, are suspect.
"I don't have any reason to believe that any of the contributions were illegal," Norton said today on WPFW's D.C. Politics. Yesterday President Barack Obama and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley returned or gave away Thompson-related money following the allegation in federal court last week that he is at the center of a straw donor scheme. But Norton, who said she's received money from Thompson her entire political career, said she has no plans to return any of his donations.
"I don't think we have any allegation of illegal contributions or straw contributions or the kinds of contributions that are illegal," she says.
Oops. Norton ought to try reading the court records filed as part of Thompson associate Jeanne Clarke Harris' guilty plea on campaign corruption charges. In them, Harris admits that in 2008, she gave $14,650 to federal candidates that were really straw donations made with Thompson's money. Norton received $2,300 from Harris that year. Whether or not it was a straw donation is impossible to tell from campaign records, which show that Harris' personal giving to federal candidates and committees that year was $19,250. That means that of the five candidates who got $2,300 donations from Harris that year, two of them might have been received the legitimately, and Norton might have been one of those two.
But—and it's a big but—the same day that Harris gave Norton a $2,300 contribution in 2008, Thompson also donated $2,300. And on top of that, five of his employees or people related to his employees gave $2,300 donations as well. That's not definite proof of any hanky panky, but it certainly should be enough to give Norton pause that all of her donations were legal.
LL's got a call into Norton's spokesman and will update as needed.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery