VO and the Mystery Campaign Worker
In case you missed it late last week, Councilmember Vincent Orange tried to push back against Washington Post columnist Colby King's assertions that there was something amiss with Orange's campaign in last year's special election.
At issue was whether veteran campaign worker Vickey Wilcher actually worked for Orange's campaign. In his Oct. 6 column, King quoted an unnamed source saying Wilcher had spoken to the FBI about that campaign, which LL has pointed out shared several key players with what federal prosecutors have said was an illegal effort to help elect Mayor Vince Gray in 2010.
King also reminded his readers that earlier this year, the Post reported that Wilcher said “Orange’s campaign decided not to pay her directly because it did not want her to show up on campaign finance reports.” Instead, the campaign paid Wilcher's friend Yvonne Moore to conceal the payments, Wilcher said.
In a letter to the Post published last Friday, Orange wrote that King is "way off base" because Wilcher didn't work his 2011 campaign. "She did intend to work for my campaign in the special election held earlier in 2011. However, she declined to do so after she was informed by the D.C. Beverage Association that she could not work for the campaign and maintain her contract with the association," Orange wrote.
But that's not true, according to several former campaign workers LL spoke with. Moore says she only worked for the Orange campaign because her friend and Orange campaign aide Wilcher recruited her.
"She was there, she got me in there," says Moore of Wilcher. Moore adds that "never again" will she work for Orange because of the way his campaign treated Wilcher—namely by not paying her for all her work. Moore disputes Wilcher's claim that Moore acted as a pass-through for campaign funds and says she was paid for work she did on the campaign, which is what Orange said in his letter to the Post.
Three other former campaign aides, who asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive topic , confirmed that Wilcher worked on the campaign on a daily or near daily basis.
When LL asked Orange about what Moore had said, he told LL to look back at his letter to the Post.
For her part, Wilcher says her lawyer has advised her not to talk about her work on past campaigns.
As it turns out, the Orange campaign might not be the only campaign Wilcher worked for where she doesn't show up on campaign finance records.
LL has obtained records marked "Daily Campaign GOTV PLAN" for the Gray campaign from Aug. 4, 2010, up until the election a month and a half later. They show Wilcher playing a key role in the get-out-the-vote effort. Her tasks included distributing thank you letters, emailing Gray's schedule, and managing phone banks. The records include the names of several other Gray campaign members who campaign records indicate were paid for their work. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, much of the illegal effort to help the Gray campaign centered on get-out-the-vote efforts. The only records of any payment to Wilcher from the campaign is a $316.25 payment for "catering/refreshments" made the day after the primary.
Here's a sample of the documents:
Photo by Darrow Montgomery