Loose Lips

Former Ward 1 Candidate Jeff Smith Admits Covering Up Jeff Thompson Money

Former D.C. Council Ward 1 candidate Jeff Smith pleaded guilty in court this afternoon to lying about receiving illicit help from shadow campaign financier Jeff Thompson, just hours after being charged with the crime.

Smith, 40, failed to oust Councilmember Jim Graham in his 2010 campaign, despite what he admitted amounted to more than $140,000 in off-the-books aid from two of Thompson's companies. As part of his plea deal for lying on an Office of Campaign Finance report, Smith faces between six and 24 months of prison time or probation.

Smith and his attorney, Blase Kearney, both declined to comment as they left Superior Court for Smith's booking at Metropolitan Police Department headquarters.

Smith's scheme with Thompson began in Dec. 2009, according to the statement of offense. On March 24, 2010, Smith sent Thompson an email planning the illicit campaign that included a budget for $140,975 worth of activities.

The money, which Smith admitted went to voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts, would have nearly doubled Smith's war chest. According to his campaign's Dec. 2010 OCF report, which Smith said did not include money he received from Thompson, Smith's campaign reported spending $143,812.89.

Apparently, sending Thompson a budget is a recurring theme in shadow campaigns. Former at-large and Ward 6 hopeful Kelvin Robinson said in his own plea deal that he gave Thompson a budget, only to see Thompson slash it by more than half. Thompson's statement of offense alleges that Mayor Vince Gray—who hasn't been charged and isn't named in the document—gave Thompson a budget for his 2010 mayoral bid.

Smith's plea deal includes a promise from the government not to pursue charges against any of Smith's family members. Smith's now-ex-wife, Council Secretary Nyasha Smith, declined LL's request for comment.

Smith's plea also guarantees protection against charges for Arielle Etienne-Edmondson, a deputy director at DC Voice, Smith's school reform group. It's not clear how Etienne-Edmondson is involved in the case, and she didn't respond to a request for comment.

At his hearing, Smith hesitated when Judge Anita Josey-Herring asked him whether he was satisfied with Kearney, his public defender. While Smith later described Kearney as "outstanding," he complained that his defense had been constrained by money problems.

"I was represented by the best counsel I could afford," Smith said.

After this month's pleas from Robinson and Smith and earlier charges against former councilmember Michael Brown, only four candidates who Thompson claimed received shadow campaigns—including Gray and at-large Councilmember Vincent Orange—have not been charged. Both Gray and Orange have repeatedly proclaimed their innocence in the investigation.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • marriedtosnakeman

    Hey isn't he Nyasha Smith's husband who serves as theCouncil's Secretary?

  • Will Sommer

    They're divorced now, it's mentioned in the article.

  • DCShadyBoots

    Did Muriel Bowser take any money from Jeffrey Thompson? David Catania? Carol Schwartz (when in office)? Adrian Fenty? Anthony Williams? Jack Evans? Phil Mendelson?

  • Roscoe’s Wetsuit

    @DCSB - As you well know, it was/ is ok to take legal money from Thompson, just not the off the books stuff, so think you might want to amend your rhetorical questions.

  • Timmy

    If Smith hadn't taken half of the anti-Graham vote, and Weaver had run alone, maybe we wouldn't have had the last 4 years of Graham.

  • Oz

    A truly arrogant prig. Hopefully Smith will learn some humility in prison.

  • He’s a Jerk…

    Agree with OZ, Jeff Smith is truly an arrogant POS.
    He's going to learn a whole lot more than humility in prison.

  • lost cause

    jeff gave big money to Bowser and Fenty

  • lost cause

    feel very sorry for Nyasha....but she and Jeff have been divorced for years and she doesn't deserve any of this to have her name brought into this.

  • DonaldSterling

    The blacks in this city must be quaking in their boots. So many black pols have gone to jail trying to maintain their stronghold on the city. Yet, the whites win the council by way of attrition (staying out of jail). It's almost over for blacks in this city's government. Catania winning the mayor's race will seal the deal.

  • Pissed Off

    So since Thompson can afford Brendan Sullivan he ends up getting only 6 months in the nicest club fed (Danbury) for being the poster child of subverting the process with MILLIONS (btw - its upwards of $5m on its way to $10m total - limited only by statute of limitations) while Smith, who took only about 1% ($140k) of Thompsons pollution, is getting the same sentence in southern Georgia?

    If Machen doesnt have Thompson testifying against some very BIG names on REALLY good charges he is just as corrupt as those he is prosecuting.

  • Pissed Off

    I meant to include "since Smith can only afford a public defender he is getting 6 months in Georgia)"

    This is the worst kind of bigotry from Machen - who says justice is reserved only for rich white people?

  • DCShadyBoots

    @Roscoe, if you wanna bury your head in the proverbial sand that is your tea. There isn't a donation that Thompson has given that isn't tinged with dirt. But such is the selective outrage of the Democrats in the District.

  • Roscoe’s Wetsuit

    While I agree that Thompson is shady, DCSB, he is still able to give to candidates legally. He did in some cases, not in others ( see campaign, shadow). Fortunately for me, my council member was one of the only ones not to take a cent from Thompson, and my precinct didn't vote gray (in either election). Guess we are just smart.

    Better luck next time, champ!

  • Wash my hands

    Oh! Jeff, Kevin, Michael, Kwame and Harry all black and well-educated and hence all fall prey to crime. I guess we need to go directly for the thug (Ron M.) at least we know what we're getting before we get got.

    As for Catania, he is just one sound bite (open mic) comment from being newsworthy.

  • Mr. Black

    We saw this coming. Just wait until the story about Nyasha comes out. She divorced him right on time.

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