Campaign Worker Takes Aim At VO, Again
The long-running drama between frequent District campaign worker Vickey Wilcher and one of her former clients (maybe?) has a new chapter.
Wilcher sent out a letter to an undisclosed list of D.C. politicos shortly before the new year accusing Councilmember Vincent Orange of spreading lies and unfairly attacking Wilcher's character. Wilcher added that she forgives Orange his trespasses, but she hopes he'll "re-think his tactics, seek forgiveness and operate from a place of genuine concern about the people he is charged with serving." LL has not been able to reach Wilcher for comment.
More important than Wilcher's missive, though, is the fact that her letter came attached with old emails that appear to contradict Orange's statements denying that Wilcher worked for his 2011 campaign.
A brief recap of the soap opera so far, along with some additional information explaining why this set-to between Orange and Wilcher is worth following:
- Wilcher says she worked for Orange's successful campaign for an at-large seat during the 2011 special election. Wilcher says the campaign did not pay her directly, but paid Wicher's friend so that Wilcher's name would not appear on campaign finance disclosure forms. Orange has consistently denied this.
- Wilcher briefly worked for Orange's opponent, Sekou Biddle, as campaign manager during the 2012 Democratic primary. In March 2012, Orange attacked Biddle for hiring Wilcher because she is a Republican who once got into legal trouble for trying to bring a gun into the Wilson Building.
- A few days later, Wilcher said Orange was playing "dirty" by using her gun-related troubles to attack Biddle.
- In September, LL was first to report that the FBI was asking about the 2011 campaign, the one that Wilcher may or may not have worked on. That campaign was heavily financed by Jeff Thompson, the alleged financier of what the feds say is an illegal "shadow campaign" that helped get Mayor Vince Gray elected in 2010. (Some of the donations tied to Thompson came in the form of money orders that Orange said were "suspicious." More on this later.)
- In October, the Post's Colby King reported that Wilcher had spoken to the feds about Orange's campaign.
- A few days later, Orange wrote a letter to the Post reiterating that Wilcher never worked for him. LL reported shortly after that several campaign aides said Orange's statements were untrue.
The emails Wilcher attached in her most recent letter strongly suggest that Wilcher did in fact, work for Orange.
There's an email from March 6, 2011, that Orange sent to multiple campaign workers setting up a meeting for the "key players of Team Orange." Wilcher's email address is the first one listed.
An organization chart sent from a campaign aide on March 10, 2011, has Wilcher in charge of "phones/labor." There are also emails between Wilcher and a private campaign phone banking operation confirming a contract with the firm and Orange's campaign. And there's email exchanges between Wilcher and Orange a few days before the election scheduling an event in Ward 8 for the candidate.
LL forwarded the emails to Orange asking whether he still maintains that Wilcher did not work for his campaign. Orange's response: "Yes!"
LL asked Orange how to reconcile that statement with Wilcher's emails, but Orange did not respond.
A related note: A spokesman for the Office of Campaign Finance says his office and other law enforcement agencies are conducting an investigation "into the validity of various contributions made by money order." Spokesman Wesley Williams says the investigation is not focused on any particular candidate, but that donations made to Orange's campaign are being probed. As part of a recent audit, Orange submitted a notarized statement saying that he did not suspect any improprieties related to his campaign fundraising. When LL requested a copy of the statement through a Freedom of Information Act request, Williams says it was not a public record because of the ongoing investigation.
Here are Wilcher's emails:
Photo by Darrow Montgomery