Continued from page 1

Tax analyst Dean Zerbe, former special counsel for the Senate Finance Committee who has investigated nonprofit abuses, said he would be surprised that anybody falsely held themselves out to be a tax-exempt charity when it’s not difficult to register with the IRS in the first place.

“In essence, it’s committing a fraud,” he said. “And it’s all the honest charities that suffer.”

In a phone interview, Ms. Hitchcock said the fact that the Team Thomas solicitation included a 501(c)3 identification, referring to the Internal Revenue Service code governing tax-exempt groups, suggested that it indeed was a tax-exempt organization. She said that was an important factor for MedStar in deciding whether to give money to Team Thomas.

The fundraising solicitation was sent to MedStar on Dec. 17, 2007, from a D.C. Council email account from Ayawna Chase, listed at the time as Mr. Thomas‘ director of constituent services. She is now his chief of staff, according to records provided by MedStar.

The solicitation included a mission statement outlining Team Thomas’ work and referred to agreements it had with the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation to run camps year-round over a five-year period.

“Historically, inner city youth have not been afforded the opportunities many suburban children benefit from based on the quality of equipment and expertise of training,” a program description included with the funding request from Team Thomas stated.

From Coca Cola to Maurice Electrical Supply, donors to Team Thomas ranged from businesses large and small across Washington. Several have issues before D.C. lawmakers.

The Mannat Phelps law firm, which lobbies D.C. lawmakers, gave $1,000, as did one of its clients, the Rhode Island Avenue Metro LLC. The Carmen Group Inc. and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP each gave $1,000. Cable giant Comcast gave $10,000. A Comcast spokeswoman said the company was not commenting on the Team Thomas suit Wednesday.

Mr. Thomas separately is facing a lawsuit filed by the federal government over thousands of dollars in unpaid student loans. Vandy Johnson, the lawyer representing him in that ongoing case, filed in federal court in Washington, was listed in a December 2007 fundraising solicitation for Team Thomas.

Others listed on the Team Thomas board at the time were relatives of Mr. Thomas and people whose ties to Washington were not immediately clear, including a parks official in Georgia and an official from a softball league in California.