Defunct insurance firm doled out cash to politicians

Gray among beneficiaries

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Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III hailed Christopher Lawson as an “incredible and experienced” leader last year when he named the Bowie businessman as a director helping to oversee the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC).

Atop Mr. Lawson’s list of credentials: his role as president and principal broker for Insuraty Inc., “a full service employee benefits firm offering health insurance, life insurance” and other services, according to Mr. Baker’s 2011 announcement.

But a check of Maryland records shows that Insuraty hasn’t been licensed to sell insurance by the Maryland Insurance Administration since 2006. What’s more, the company’s corporate status was forfeited in 2009. Its registered agent also resigned in 2010, records show.

In an interview and subsequent email exchange, Mr. Lawson described the forfeiture of his company’s corporate status as a simple mistake. He also said he planned to update information on his official biography to reflect the fact that Insuraty isn’t an insurance company but rather a marketing firm, though he pointed out that as an individual, he is licensed by the Maryland Insurance Administration.

“I’m certainly not misleading anybody,” he said.

Still, even if the state of Maryland officially doesn’t recognize Insuraty - which was based out of Mr. Lawson’s home - elected officials happily do, accepting thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the company despite its defunct status.

In several instances, the donations from Insuraty have come on the same day, in the same amount and to the same politicians as contributions from D.C. contractor Jeffrey E. Thompson and his associates. Mr. Thompson resigned his posts atop a District accounting firm and health insurance company - both were once listed as clients on Insuraty’s website - after a raid of his office and home earlier this year. Beneficiaries of the company’s largesse have included the campaigns of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, records show.

Donations flowed despite judgment

Along with Insuraty, Mr. Lawson, whose biography on the WSSC website lists him as a chairman to Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown’s campaign, has made large personal donations over the years to Maryland and D.C. political campaigns, even as he faces a more than $20,000 credit card judgment in 2007, according to court records.

Since the judgment in the collections lawsuit was filed by American Express, Mr. Lawson has given more than $27,000 in donations - which is about what he was being sued for by the credit card company.

Mr. Lawson said the judgment stemmed from a former employee’s use of the card, but he said the liability fell to him because the card was under his name. He also said he arranged to make payments through an attorney in the case.

But court records and attorneys involved in the case, which was filed in Prince George’s County, confirm that the total debt hasn’t been paid off.

All told, Mr. Lawson, his wife and Insuraty combined have given more than $100,000 in campaign contributions to candidates in federal, D.C. and Maryland political campaigns since 2001, though the bulk of the donations were made after 2005, records show.

Mr. Baker’s nonprofit inaugural committee, Path to Greatness, also lists Insuraty as a sponsor and Michelle Haywood, Mr. Lawson’s wife, as a founding director.

Many of the donations from Mr. Lawson, his wife and Insuraty have benefited campaigns in the District. Half of the political contributions made by the Bowie couple and business - or about $54,000 - have gone to D.C. government campaigns.

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