Loose Lips

Former Ward 1 Candidate Jeff Smith Gets 60 Days in Jail on Jeff Thompson Charge

Former Ward 1 D.C. Council candidate Jeff Smith came to D.C. Superior Court today to be sentenced, but he didn't take it quietly. When he got a chance to talk, Smith accused U.S. Attorney Ron Machen's prosecutors of a list of misdeeds in their investigation of the illicit shadow campaign he received from campaign-crime impresario Jeff Thompson, from threatening to prosecute his family members to tricking him with an immunity deal that never materialized to accusing him of committing fraud on a mortgage that he doesn't even have.

Smith leveled so many accusations against the U.S. Attorney's Office that the prosecutor on the case made the unusual request for time to deny Smith's allegations.

"My campaign was not a fraud," Smith said. "Jeff Thompson was a fraud."

Smith's attempt to prosecute the prosecutors didn't win over Judge Anita M. Josey-Herring, who sentenced Smith to two months in jail, along with a suspended four more months in jail that he'll likely never serve. Josey-Herring also gave Smith a year of probation and a $10,000 fine, in a sentence she acknowledged was a severe one for Smith's charge of falsifying a campaign finance report.

The path that lead Smith to his jail sentence began in Dec. 2009, when he began hitting up Thompson for off-the-books money to help Smith's Ward 1 D.C. Council bid against incumbent Jim Graham and challenger Bryan Weaver.

Prosecutors say Smith benefited from more than $140,000 in illicit contributions from Thompson, exchanges that were documented in a paper trail that includes bank records and an email from Smith to Thompson detailing his desired shadow campaign budget.

Thompson and Smith were in such regular contact, according to prosecutor Jonathan P. Hooks, that Smith asked Thompson for extra money when he wanted to run Internet campaign ads. (If Thompson wanted to protect his lucrative Medicaid contract with the District, he could have picked a better candidate—Smith came in second in the primary.)

Asking for leniency, court-appointed Smith attorney Blase Kearney praised his client's "commitment to service" as an education reformer and a former member of the District's State Board of Education. That dedication was somewhat undermined by the government's allegations that Smith funneled some of Thompson's money through a charter school company, then took a cut of it for himself.

Thompson's help didn't stop Smith from complaining about the comparatively cushy deal received by Thompson. For cooperating with the government in its investigation of Mayor Vince Gray and others, Thompson's sentence for multiple corrupt schemes could be as little as six months house arrest.

"He's the millionaire," Smith said. "That's why he's not here, but I can't afford an attorney."

As the marshals closed in on Smith, Josey-Herring agreed to hold off on imposing the sentence until Thursday to give Smith time to find someone to care for his young daughter, whose picture he held up as he asked for a lighter sentence. Josey-Herring recommended that Smith be confined to the Correctional Treatment Facility, a unit next to the D.C. Jail that's considered more comfortable.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • anon

    yeah, that is some bs sentencing. judge just acknowledges that its a harsh fine, and that's it? reminds me of the ridiculously harsh sentences for the poor cabbies caught up in the ted loza mess.

  • rosa

    Odd time to find someone to care for his daughter? I would think that would be her mother. Plus he has known about the sentencing for months.Blaming everyone but himself. The one question unanswered is where did the money go?

  • Will Sommer


    The judge wasn't thrilled with the daughter defense either. Said he should've been prepared to go to jail when he came in.

  • lost cause

    @rosa....that's because his wife may be next to be charged since she knew all about the 140k in cash coming into their home
    yeah and she is the secretary of the city council to, how crazy is this going to end up being.

  • US Attorney is BS

    I have said it many times before - it is absolutely outrageous that Uncle Earl, the epitome of campaign finance corruption (having illegally spent $10,000,000 + over the years on federal and local candidates) is getting only 180 days of "house arrest" from Machen and schmucks likes Smith are getting relatively vastly harsher sentences.

    But our BS US Attorney is NOT going after any of the really big names (that everyone knows) that have turned up in the millions of pages of Uncle Earl's meticulously mainteded records that Machen successfully fought for (all the way to the Supreme Court, remember).

    Hmm, why is that? Could it have anything to do with political party of the perpetrators? The only two names that have been mentioned so far are Eleanor Norton and Hillary Clinton (remember that she got $600k just for one state primary).

    Machen should be ashamed for such mockery of his responsibilities and blatant misuse of prosecutorial discretion.

    It would makes me sick to be associated with this case.

  • Curious

    @ Will Sommer

    Was the charter school used as a pass through identified in court? Was it not Options?

    Who was Jeff Smith's campaign manager -- the one who assisted in the pass through scheme?

  • DLM

    I worked on the campaign and had a ceremonial position. I also worked with Jeff's wife. Since money was a chronic shortage in the campaign from leasing property to other things, this came as a complete shock to me. I certainly do not think, knowing his wife and the situation that was going on then, that she knew about the money either. I was given a much lower amount in my FBI interview and was stunned at that relatively small number. If we had it we could have done some of the things we wanted to do like shelter bus ads. There is more to the story, but flinging mud at Ms. Smith merely because she was married to him is muckraking at its worse. I really don't feel comfortable giving more detail because while I felt used, I think the biggest concern here should be his young daughter, who loves both her parents and will be enduring a difficult time in the near future. Whatever else Jeff may have done, their divorce was quiet and they put their child first and I would hope posters would keep her in mind when they post their nasty grams.

  • dwiktor

    I have no idea where you got the idea that the Campaign Manager assisted on the pass through scheme.
    I was his campaign manager, at least on paper and definitely did NOT know about the money. In fact, I never saw the books or signed any reports and had no check writing authority. In my interviews with the FBI it was clear there was a separate account located in a company's name in Woodbridge. I am assuming that is one of the "friends" he refers to. Note, in his sentencing statement he speaks of threats to charge his mother, brother and friends.
    In fact I don't even know why I bother to read comments in CP as they are lacking in facts and full of wild speculation.
    Denise Wiktor

  • choclatcitychik

    Idiotic, they've been divorced for years! Speak not of what you know not.

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