Cam­paign money or­ders to cease?

$217,000 in such con­tri­bu­tions be­ing scru­ti­nized by law­mak­ers

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY JIM MCELHATTON AND

Nearly a quar­ter-mil­lion dol­lars in money or­ders have helped keep D.C. cam­paigns flush with cash in re­cent years, ben­e­fit­ing some of the same city politi­cians now con­sid­er­ing all but ban­ning the do­na­tions af­ter a raid on the of­fice of a prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal pa­tron.

But two politi­cians stand above the rest — D.C. Coun­cil mem­ber Vin­cent B. Orange and Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray — who to­gether ac­count for nearly 40 per­cent of the $217,000 in money or­der con­tri­bu­tions to city politi­cians since 2006, an anal­y­sis by The Washington Times shows.

For Mr. Gray, some of the big­gest fundrais­ing ac­tiv­ity oc­curred at a time when he hardly seemed in need of the money.

Dur­ing a three-day span in late Septem­ber and early Novem­ber 2010, weeks af­ter his pri­mary vic­tory against in­cum­bent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Mr. Gray was all but as­sured of vic­tory as the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee in a heav­ily Demo­cratic city. Yet, that’s when his cam­paign re­ceived more than two dozen money or­ders, many for the max­i­mum amount and sev­eral linked to pro­lific fundraiser and D.C. contractor Jef­frey E. Thompson.

Once a wel­come and sought af­ter source of cam­paign cash, con­tri­bu­tions tied to Mr. Thompson now are un­der sharp scru­tiny af­ter fed­eral agents raided his home and of­fice this month as part of a fed­eral cam­paign fi­nance in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which also saw sub­poe­nas sent to sev­eral city law­mak­ers.

Mr. Thompson’s largesse goes far be­yond Mr. Gray and Mr. Orange, an at-large Demo­crat. He has do­nated to more than a dozen cam­paigns for lo­cal of­fice over the past decade at a time when his health care com­pany — D.C. Char­tered Health Plan — be­came the city’s big­gest Med­i­caid contractor, its busi­ness also grow­ing un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tions of for­mer may­ors An­thony A. Wil­liams and Mr. Fenty.

Bren­dan Sul­li­van, a lawyer for Mr. Thompson, has de­clined to speak about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, writ­ing in an email he doesn’t com­ment on mat­ters re­lated to clients. Mr. Thompson has not been ac­cused of any wrong­do­ing.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion also has shined a light on the use of money or­ders as a way to con­trib­ute to po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns. Days af­ter the raid, city law­mak­ers be­gan dis­cussing whether to cap money do­na­tions at $25. Mr. Gray doesn’t dis­agree, call­ing the leg­is­la­tion last week “an idea that has merit.”

Days af­ter the raid on Mr. Thompson’s of­fice, Mr. Gray said that like many city politi­cians over the years, he had asked for Mr. Thompson’s sup­port. But he said he didn’t per­son­ally han­dle money or­der do­na­tions.

“Those things that I ac­tu­ally brought in were cash,” he said.

Still, Mr. Gray ben­e­fited from sev­eral big money or­der do­na­tions tied to Mr. Thompson, in­clud­ing three $500 do­na­tions on Nov. 2, 2010, from an en­tity called Eu­clid Street Part­ners, whose in­cor­po­ra­tion pa­pers list as of­fi­cers Mr. Thompson and Keith Hendy, an em­ployee at Mr. Thompson’s ac­count­ing firm, ac­cord­ing to other con­tri­bu­tion records.

Mr. Gray also re­ceived a pair of $1,000 money or­ders days ear­lier from Kwame Cal­houn, with cam­paign records show­ing a Sil­ver Spring ad­dress that’s the same as that of Lee Cal­houn, an em­ployee of Mr. Thompson’s ac­count­ing firm, Thompson Cobb Bazilio & As­so­ciates. In all, $53,800 in con­tri­bu­tions to Dis­trict can­di­dates have come from that Sil­ver Spring home, $11,500 of which came in the form of money or­ders.

Over­all, Mr. Gray has re­ceived 164 money or­ders over the years for more than $45,000, with 36 of the do­na­tions $499 or more.

Pe­dro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mr. Gray, said Mon­day the mayor sup­ports money or­der leg­is­la­tion and noted that his most re­cent bud­get in­cludes more fund­ing for the D.C. Of­fice of Cam­paign Fi­nance.

While Mr. Gray has re­ceived more money or­ders, Mr. Orange has re­ceived more big money or­ders. Out of his 60 money or­ders, Mr. Orange re­ceived 39 do­na­tions for $499 or more, records show.

Among those giv­ing money or­ders to Mr. Orange on March 10, 2011, were Kwame Cal­houn, a Cal­i­for­nia com­pany called Ten2one En­ter­tain­ment, which has not re­turned mes­sages, and Mr. Thompson’s Eu­clid Street Part­ners. Sev­eral em­ploy­ees of Thompson Cobb Bazilio & As­so­ciates also do­nated by check for the max­i­mum amount that day.

The ties of other donors to Mr. Orange that day are harder to fig­ure and in­clude a concierge in Mi­ami Beach, Fla., a Las Ve­gas con­sul­tant and a pro­gram­mer for the chil­dren’s cable chan­nel Nick­elodeon, all of whom gave $1,000.

Mr. Orange’s of­fice did not respond to a phone mes­sage Mon­day.

Other politi­cians who re­ceived sig­nif­i­cant money or­der do­na­tions in­clude for­mer Ward 1 D.C. Coun­cil can­di­date Jeff Smith, for­mer Ward 5 coun­cil mem­ber Harry Thomas Jr., and coun­cil mem­ber Michael A. Brown, at-large in­de­pen­dent, all of whom re­ceived more than $10,000 each. Mr. Fenty re­ceived 11 money or­ders for $3,820.

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

D.C. Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray (top) and coun­cil mem­ber Vin­cent B. Orange (right) to­gether ac­count for nearly 40 per­cent of the $217,000 in money or­der con­tri­bu­tions to city politi­cians since 2006. City law­mak­ers are dis­cussing cap­ping such do­na­tions at $25 af­ter a raid on the of­fice of a prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal pa­tron as part of a cam­paign fi­nance in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.