Loose Lips

Alleged Shadow Campaign Funder Jeff Thompson Charged With Conspiracy (Updated)

Alleged Vince Gray shadow campaign financier Jeff Thompson operated an illegal money network that provided more than $2.3 million in illicit contributions and other help to District and federal political campaigns, including the 2010 and 2006 mayoral races, according to a criminal information filed this morning that charges him with two counts of conspiracy.

That kind of filing almost certainly indicates that Thompson will plead guilty to the charges and cooperate with prosecutors. Thompson will go in front of U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly at 1:30 p.m. today, with a joint press conference on the case with the FBI, the IRS, and the U.S. Attorney's Office scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Thompson is accused of organizing more than $250,000 worth of straw contributions to 13 federal candidates that he passed through his employees, charges that match earlier guilty pleas from former Thompson employees.  The information also mentions that Thompson's companies would then disguise the reimbursements to the straw donors as "consultant fees," advances, or bonuses.

Thompson is also accused of spending $608,750 illicitly to back a 2008 presidential candidate, which echoes court documents filed against another Thompson associate who was involved with an illicit effort on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

But the biggest impact from the filing could come in the District's local politics, where Thompson is described as spending more than $1,480,946 on shadow campaign-style efforts and straw donations "in coordination with and in support of" District candidates as far back as 2006.

Thompson allegedly spent $20,000 for a 2007 Ward 4 candidate and $100,000 for an at-large candidate, which would match earlier court documents filed about disgraced former councilmember Michael A. Brown. Thompson also allegedly spent $278,000 on behalf of a 2006 mayoral candidate, $100,000 for another 2010 at-large candidate, $26,000 for a Ward 6 candidate in 2010, $140,000 for a Ward 1 candidate in 2010, and $148,146 for a 2011 at-large candidate.

Thompson also allegedly spent $668,800 in excess contributions and other illicit help in the 2010 race, a claim that is similar to Thompson associate Jeanne Clarke Harris' description of a shadow campaign effort to elect Gray. The information doesn't name Gray or any of the other candidates, and Gray hasn't been charged with any crimes.

Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies points to similar language describing the 2008 primary effort believed to help Clinton and the 2010 mayoral shadow campaign as evidence that Gray didn't know about the alleged crimes.

“We welcome this like the sun rises in the east," Thies says. "Who called for this investigation? Vince Gray. People who break the law must face justice. Well, now Jeff Thompson is going to face justice."

The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on the filing. Thompson's attorney didn't respond to an immediate request for comment.

Photo courtesy Charles Parsons

  • cminus

    @tony, so US Attorney Ron Machen, serving under Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in turn appointed by Barack Obama, is part of some racist conspiracy to overturn the 2010 mayoral election? Are Machen, Holder, and Obama all secretly white?

    And why would anyone with the kind of power to suborn the entire Justice Department waste their time with Vincent Gray? If someone with the power to dictate investigations were motivated by racial animus to overturn the results of an election, they wouldn't target Vincent Gray, they would target someone with a national reputation -- like, say, Obama, or Holder. Heck, it would make more sense to target Marion Barry than Vincent Gray, for all that Gray has a lot more power locally; the average American has heard of Marion Barry.

  • tony

    @cminus,

    It’s unreasonable to ask any black person to ignore the obvious racial implications that this matter contains.

    Here you have a black Mayor who has been hounded by the establishment and the US Attorney's office for three years over allegations of operating a shadow campaign. In fact, this black Mayor’s name and reputation has been smeared. His desire to fulfill his political ambitions has been marred.

    Yet, we now know, that tons of US Senators, Congressmen and a slew of other politicians throughout this country including one of the most prestigious political names in American history, campaigns also had political interactions with the same businessman as Gray’s campaign.

    However, none them are being politically threatened. None of them are having their names and reputations dragged through the mud. None of them are being forced to resign or quit.

    Again, as in the past, it’s only that Black MAN who everyone wants politically "lynched".

  • schoolman

    Tony:

    Wake up from your dream already! What part of caught don't you understand?

  • Anonymous,Too

    "So why is Gray's campaign the only one being "targeted"?

    Bitch, bitch, bitch.

    Thank you, Ron Machen. Keep up the good work.

  • TF

    This city re-elected Marion Barry how many times, and we still think this will keep Gray from being re-elected??

  • tony

    My point exactly.

    They all have been caught!

    Now go after them all. Nah, that's not going to happen.

    Mayor Gray will be re-elected!

  • tony

    Man, I wish white folks stop playing games with black folks in this city.

    Lets fact it. The only people who benefits from Gray's absence are who?

    The Muriel Bowser AND Vincent Orange’s supporters who are wishing Gray political harm are living in a fantasy world.

    Gray’s absence from this race will not benefit Muriel Bowser one bit. Most of her white supporters will go with either Evans or Wells because they will be seen as having a real chance at winning.

    Likewise, VO will not benefit because he and Muriel Bowser will split the black vote. They both will lose.

    And, the idea of a white Mayor of D.C. will become a reality. Then we will see how life will change for the same people who have called this city home for generations. We will see whether corruption in government is pursued with such vigor. In fact, we will see a lot of things.

    If black folks are dumb enough to still believe that the man's ice is colder then be my guest.

  • tony

    No more comments from me until after the election.

    However, I refuse to believe that black folks will give away political power and the future of black generations to come to "others" on Election Day and essentially crush the dreams and painfully sacrifices of so many.
    Peace!

    “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie extoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed, everything and anything except me.”
    ― Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

  • truth hurts

    Tony, Ralph Ellison wasn't writing about corrupt politicians, black or white. You're free to support public corruption, argue that other black mayoral candidates are really white demons, that white residents are somehow plotting against black residents, and that a corrupt mayor shouldn't be prosecuted if he/she is black -- just as tea party haters are free to claim Obama wasn't born in the USA and is a Muslim plant.

    Your bullshit is no better than their bullshit. Bullshit is bullshit.

  • HUAlum71

    Whew!!!!

    Questions:

    Why did Ron Machen wait until one week before the early voting dates to indict J. Thompson?

    Why is it that all of the campaigns/candidates who received the money from Thompson are not hounded and targeted like Mayor Gray?

    Why is it that Machen has not charged/indicted Mayor Gray?

    Where are the 2010 Gray campaign honchos?

    Will all of the recipients of Thompson's illicit cash be charged/indicted whether or not they returned it?

    What jury would convict based on the testimony of plea bargainers?

    What city re-elected a Mayor under siege after a sting that was televised for the world to see?

    What is the real agenda for Ron Machen?

    Why wasn't Mayor Gray indicted if he has done something illegal?

  • Abominable Dr. Phibes

    Phibes trumps invisible man

  • tony

    I AM BACK JUST LIKE THAT!

    @TruthHurts,

    You damned right, I can believe what I want. And I do.

    Mayor Gray is no more a corrupt politician than the other politicians in this city and Country. Even with this current matter, there are others who are accused of the same thing that Gray’s campaign has been accused of. However, they will get a free pass.

    This is the issue that blacks have with this investigation. It really bespeak to the uneven prosecution of black politicians. And herein lays the real problem.

    And, yes, I and thousands of other blacks do believe that there’s a concerted effort by the white powers- to- be- to take political reins in this city. And, yes, I and thousands of other blacks do believe that Gray is being politically targeted. And, yes, I and thousands of other blacks do believe that white folks like you have a problem with black governance.

    I told the black commenters years ago that you were nothing but a snake in the grass and I am right. You just like the typical white man who have made it your business to pit one black against another. Just like WILLIE LYNCH instructed.

    But, Mayor Gray is a strong black man and he will weather this racist attempt to defeat him.

    BTW, as a white man, you could never fully appreciate the inspiration and cultural interpretations of Ellison’s writings.

    So, stop trying and stay in your lane.

  • DC5

    Koch brothers. If nobody cares about them why should I care about Gray?

  • YW

    Mayor Gray is not going to be indicted. There is no evidence. Mayor Gray will WIN the primary handily. His supporters are indeed unwavering and their support solid. None of these “allegations” are a surprise to Gray supporters. Quiet as it is kept, many believe some of these allegations and will still vote for Mayor Gray because he has done a great job as Mayor and with all the scrutiny upon him, he could not do anything even remotely illegal if he wanted to.

  • C. Thomas Boone

    The fact of the matter is that The Washington Post is now reporting that Jeff Thompson's reach was much greater than just the DC Council.

    Lt. Gov. of Maryland Anthony Brown accepted $20K from Thompson which he then "illegally outsourced" according to numerous sources.

    The Washinton Post is reporting that in 2008, more than $100K in contributions to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown - who is now asking the voters to make him Governor - came from the same shadow govenerment financier and convicted felon Jeff Thompson. And that Thompson has also contribued to several other high ranking officials in Maryland - including Governor O'Malley.

    When President Clinton was here to endorse Brown - the very day that this story broke - he said two interesting things. 1) Clinton said he saw nothing wrong with the way Brown / O'Malley had governed Maryland, nothing that really needed to be changed; and 2) Clinton said he would never vote for someone had not made a mistake because that person had spent the entire time in office confined within the office.

    Clearly there is something egregiously wrong with old style Tammany Hall politics, graft, theft and misuse of power, misappropriation, and laundering or otherwise "illegally outsourcing" funds from a felon and operating under the umbrella of a "shadow government" - whether real or a paranoid fantasy. Clearly something very shadowy was going on here!

    Second, this is not the first time Lt. Brown has exercised fiduciary responsibility - something he as a Harvard attorey ought to know all about - in a questionable manner. The entire way he solicited campaign contributions from the very folks he was expected to oversee in setting up the failed medical exchange (which cost Maryland taxpayers some $250M plus) certainly stinks.

    There is also the matter that Brown and O'Malley were elected along with Obama promising TRANSPARENCY. In fact, the Brown / O'Malley years have been nothing but critical business behind closed doors without even public records and if here are minutes, often replete with huge gaps. There has been nothing the least bit TRANSPARENT about the way Brown / O'Malley have governed.

    Now they might right very pretty reports and proposals with beautiful MS and Adobe graphics that are light, appear coherent, and suggest they know Brown and O'Malley have some vague notion of how to govern. But if Clinton really sees nothing that needs to be changed, he needs to
    consult an occulist. The truth is that Brown / O'Malley numbers almost invariably have nothing to do with reality.

    Brown would have us believe that unemployment is at an all time low in Baltimore City when in fact everything tells us it is not. In fact, when one includes all the marginalized workers who would like to be engaged in work at least part-time, the true unemployment rate in Baltimore trends more towards 1 out of 2 or 50 percent.

    Baltimore has seen a mass exodus of small and medium-sized industry; as well as the loss of the last of the great steel mills. Actual official poverty rates have trended upward from something like 20 percent to 30 percent between 2008 and 2012 and there is no indication that the
    impoverished had gotten any richer since. If anything, they have left, fled is more like it, or just plain dropped dead. Unemployment is also trending way up again from 20 to 30 percent especially among minority males. Decent paying jobs with benefits are being replaced with low paying service sector jobs without benefits. Foreclosures remain at record highs - and some of the foreclosed property you cannot even give away for back taxes due (it has been that poorly maintained). Small and medium sized industry has fled (more than 7K businesses have left Maryland over he Brown /O'Malley years). There have been some marginal improvements in testing among Baltimore students but the dropout rate still remains and trends very high; and of those who do graduate, upon reacing college, 70 to 80 percent require remediation in basic math and basic English reading and writing skills. Elementary school skills.

    There have been 40 successive regressive tax increases under the Brown / O'Malley administration. The worst and most regressive has been the gas tax; no attempt was made to offset this energy tax with a giveback or incentive to industry or to the public in general say in the form or a substantial reduction in income taxes.

    And now it appears that Brown / O'Malley were on the take and in cahoots with a shadow government orchestrated by felon Jeff Thompson?

    But Clinton sees nothing that needs to be changed.

    Look. I am all for forgiveness. Lord knows, there are certainly times I have definitely made mistakes myself.

    In the case of the reach of Jeff Thompson though, and the discharge of fiduciary responsibility by Brown / O'Mallley, we are once again posed with an endless series of questions which will necessitate special prosecution, auditing both personal and campaign records going way back, searching high and low to even begin to get at the truth because the two are champions of deception.

    Even when the Attorney General of Maryland brings these allegations to light and presents a factually supported synopsis - as he did last week, the press tends to discount what he has to say because AG Gansler is running against Lt. Gov. Brown to succeed O'Malley - both on the Democratic ticket.

    The thing that is differnt is that an Attorney General is cognizant of the meaning of an oath and integrity and fiduciary responsibility and -- even if it is a political opponent he must bring charges to light about it, he does not do so lightly or without careful fact-checking and investigation or as some sort of political ploy. Anyone who truly knows DOUG GANSLER knows what kind of man he is. We are not dealing with some schmuck here. We are dealing with the Attorney General of the State of Maryland, a postion DOUG GANSLER has always taken as a solemn sacred act of service and duty. To suggest that otherwise is egregiously ludicrous.

    So yeah, I believe in forgiveness. One time. Two times. Maybe even three times. But just like in baseball, you know four times you are definitely "OUT". And then there is that old adage "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

    I would not be the least bit surprised to see Gray and his entire administratin as well as what appear to be some far reaching tenacles of this "shadow government" cronyism and outright deceit and corruption splashed all over the papers for the next several years. I would not be at all surprised to see Gray and Brown lose huge numbers of votes because of this.

    Because there is one thing that really offends law abiding hard working voters like me and that is to see those we entrust with governing our most important institutions engage in such debaucherous and immoral conduct motivated solely by greeed.

    But then in the wake of Citizens United II, who can be surprised at anything that suggests that the whole of American government is for sale?

    I have faith in the people of this land. All of the people - regardless of race, sex, gender preference, size, shape, handicaps or gifts, educational levels, ethnic backgrounds - what have you, all the things which hisoricallly are used to separate and divide us. I have faith in the words "We the people..." that begin the preamble of the Declaration of Indepdence. Or as Abe Lincoln said, "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time." And no matter what one might think of "hicks" in "Peoria" or Terapins in places like Garrett County and St. Mary's County - seemingly almost as remote from civilization as one can get, I'll tell you one thing: the American people are not fools.

    Mr. Gray and Mr. Brown, your time is coming. You will want to keep a vigilant watch because the taxpayers are not apt to forget. At least not those of us who are awake - and a whole lot of us are a whole lot less braindead than we appear. It is listening to your endlesss dribble that gives us that glazed-eye.

    Good luck.

    C. Thomas Boone

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