Loose Lips

VO’s Tin Ear

Friday afternoon, Councilmember Vincent Orange took to Twitter to crow about the fact that the Office of Campaign Finance had completed an audit of Orange's 2011 campaign and made no referrals to federal law enforcement agencies or the newly formed Board of Ethics.

That's about as sad as Councilmember Jim Graham boasting about the time he refused a cash-filled enveloped dropped on his desk by his then-chief of staff. In other words, it's very, very sad.

For starters, the FBI isn't waiting around for OCF to make a referral and has already started looking at Orange's 2011 campaign, according to a former aide. But more importantly, Orange is bragging at a time when he should be showing some contrition.

Why contrition? Because there's an extremely large possibility that his 2011 campaign benefited from illegal campaign contributions. This is not news, but allow LL to lay out key three facts. Fact 1: When Jeanne Clarke Harris pleaded guilty this summer to giving $44,000 in straw donations to Mayor Vince Gray's campaign, she said in court that the friends and family members whose names were used as part of the straw donor scheme did not have the resources to have given the Gray campaign $2,000 donations on their own. Fact 2: U.S. Attorney Ron Machen says Harris was part of straw donor schemes in multiple local elections. Fact 3: Some of same friends and family members of Harris who are listed as giving $2,000 to the Gray campaign in 2010 gave $1,000 to the Orange campaign in early 2011.

That's a pretty strong case right there that Orange's campaign benefited from illegal straw donations without even getting into the murky details of the multiple money orders tied to the alleged moneyman behind Harris' straw donors, Jeff Thompson. Orange himself called those money orders "suspicious," as would anyone with half a brain who bothered to scrutinize them. (For an example of why some Thompson-related money orders are suspicious, read this post.) OCF didn't bother to investigate the source of the money behind the money orders. Instead, it noted that Orange "responded in a notarized statement that he at no time did he suspect or have reason to suspect any improprieties in the campaign fundraising process for the Orange At-large campaign."

That's been Orange's line all along: if there was hanky panky going on with the tens of thousands of dollars tied to Thompson flowing into the campaign, Orange—a certified accountant—didn't know anything about it.

The rest of the city's local pols are singing a similar tune, but none of them (save for, perhaps, the mayor) benefited from Thompson's alleged largesse as much as Orange did. And that's not really something to brag about.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • DCGovcorruption

    Is CP trying to say that VO stole money or didnot spend the funds on campaign activities? I have not seen anything
    factual to indicate such wrongdoing by Councilmember Orange. This appears to be a fishing expedition by CP to say that because VO received contributions from Mr. Thompson (he has not been charged with any crime)he is guilt by association in your book.

  • http://TheDCPundit.com VonniMediaMogul

    Godd*mnit Alan I wish you'd just come out and say what you are insinuating. You want Orange in jail. Admit it. But you can't come up with the facts to prove it so you keep beating around the bush. The public is even sick of it. I just did you a favor and became the second post on your continued scheme to overthrow VO. The question is in favor of whom?

  • SayWhat

    In favor of who? White people! Don't make no sense of how racism is still alive and well in the 21st century. Look how he's not screaming about Jim Graham, David Catania and his conflict of interest, Jack Evan's and his sport ticket buying or the govt. Money he gave to the Concoran for years, that's now leaving DC,ect.

  • nowaitadaminit

    Don't forget Mary Cheh and her hypocritical azz.
    The 'saint' Tommy who wouldn't be there without the strange and odd Ambrose. Can't help but mention that crew hanging around her. They remind me of the Stepford Wives and or the Witches of Eastwick. Ever notice how those heifers act during a Capital Hill East hearing? SA pretends to quiet them down, but if she really meant the show of humility it should be known and then they wouldn't act out in the first place.

  • James Ward 2

    It's interesting to see how commenters on this post have come to the defense of VO. The defense of VO (and assault on LL's reporting) is similar to the comments of those who defended Harry Thomas, Jr. (HTJ) and Kwame Brown when they were being scrutinized by LL coverage. VO is neither HTJ nor Kwame. And the basis for defending VO should not be assaulting LL. Ad hominem attacks on LL do not shield VO from valid criticisms.

    Simply stated: The FBI has shown that Jeffrey Thompson facilitated straw donations. Candidates on the 2012 ballot who received campaign donations from Thompson are justifiable targets for journalism.

  • JamesWard6

    @JamesWard2: Also simply stated: Donations toward the 2012 ballot and other ballots are not mutually exclusive.
    And pardon me if I'm incorrect, but when did the FBI make you privy to what it has shown or is investigating.

    Matter of fact, when and where does it say the US Attorney's office stated Jeffrey Thompson facilitated straw donations? He may be the mysterious one mentioned in the Jeanne Clarke Harris case, but unless I've missed something, he has not been charged with facilitating straw donations or anything else at this point.

    Bet your bottom $$$ LL knows a little bit about appealing to personal prejudices as opposed to reason. Don't you LL? It's interesting to note you don't note that.