Harry Thomas Jr.’s Chief of Staff Charged in Party Funding Scheme
Former D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.'s scheme to fund a 2009 inaugural ball has resulted in federal charges for another person. Ayawna Webster, Thomas' former chief of staff, was charged in a criminal information today with filing incorrect tax returns in an attempt to cover up how her group paid for the bash.
While working as the president of the D.C. Young Democrats, according to court records, Webster filed a false tax return in an attempt to cover up $104,500 in public money the group had received to fund their blowout 51st State Inaugural ball at the Wilson Building. Since the allegation against Webster is filed in a criminal information, which usually indicates that the defendant plans to plead guilty, expect a plea soon.
The backstory: Thomas needed the money to fund the 2009 party but the Children's Youth Investment Trust Corporation, his usual favorite for raiding, wouldn't give it to a partisan group. CYITC head Millicent West told Thomas aide Neil Rodgers that she could give the funds to a different group that could then send it on to the Young Democrats.
That group turned out to be the Youth Technology Institute, which forwarded the money on to the Young Democrats. Webster filed false tax forms to cover up the fact that it eventually received the money, which was originally intended for drug prevention.
Both West and Youth Technology Institute boss Danita Doleman have plead guilty to charges related to the scheme. No word for now on what's happening with Rodgers—LL contacted Rodgers' lawyer, go-to attorney A. Scott Bolden, but Bolden says Rodgers isn't his client anymore.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery