- Strong quake hits Japan, triggering tsunami
- Sniper heaven: Pentagon’s self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide
- Violent gang taking advantage of immigration crisis, using border as recruiting hub
- Medicaid enrollment continues to soar under Obamacare, administration says
- Michelle Obama to Latinos: ‘We cannot afford to wait on Congress’ for immigration
- White House urges GOP to act ‘urgently’ on $3.7 billion request for illegal immigrants
- Politicians, criminals using ‘right-to-be-forgotten’ law EU courts forced upon Google
- Combat fatigue: elite special forces troops are ‘fraying,’ Gen. Joseph Votel warns
- German foreign minister to meet Kerry to discuss spying claims
- Florida police spokesman tells citizens: ‘Get yourself some firearms’
Norton: No Thompson bundling, only ‘fundraising’
Question of the Day
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton told a local radio station recently that city contractor Jeffrey E. Thompson, the central figure in a deepening campaign scandal involving D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, didn’t bundle any campaign cash for her.
“Jeff Thompson never collected, bundled money for me,” the Democrat told WPFW-FM.
But hours later, Mrs. Norton’s campaign issued a statement to The Washington Times saying, “Checks connected to Mr. Thompson came during a fundraising reception he sponsored for the Congresswoman. Among those who attended and contributed were Mr. Thompson’s associates and others he invited.”
To Craig Holman, legislative representative for the watchdog group Public Citizen who is considered a national authority in campaign-finance law, the Norton campaign statement sounds exactly like what a bundler does: Gather like-minded people at receptions who then donate lots of money to politicians.
“That is the very definition of bundling,” Mr. Holman said. “People play very fast and loose with the definition of bundling. It should be a very broad term that captures any act in which a single individual gets credit raising campaign funds for others.
“It’s clear to everyone he was doing it as a means to gain access,” he said of Mr. Thompson, who has not been charged but whose name appears on subpoenas sent to several city lawmakers. “I’d be critical of anyone who hangs on to that money.”
Mrs. Norton’s decision last week to keep campaign donations from Mr. Thompson puts her at odds with her own party’s leadership. The Democratic Party, President Obama, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine all have returned donations they received from Mr. Thompson or contributions tied to him. Meantime, the National Republican Congressional Committee, which accepted $25,000 from Mr. Thompson in 2004, has not said whether it plans to part with its donation.
Under federal election law, campaigns can return donations, donate them to charity or send them to the U.S. Treasury Department.
The Times reported early last week that Mrs. Norton had raised about $50,000 in just three days leading up to her successful 2006, 2008 and 2010 re-elections from Mr. Thompson, his employees and associates and their family members. The Times also made phone and email inquiries to Mrs. Norton’s office with questions about the contributions, but nobody responded until after her radio interview days later.
“Our donations complied with federal law,” Mrs. Norton said on radio.
The campaign later released a statement to The Times saying all of the money taken in by Mr. Thompson was legal.
“Her campaign contributions are always checked first by her campaign and then by her accountants to assure that they meet federal law and regulations,” the statement read. “All her contributions have met this standard. More recently, we again verified the legality of all Norton contributions.”
It’s unclear how the Norton campaign determined the legality of the contributions, including more than $6,000 received over the years from Eugenia Harris, a convicted felon and longtime political operative who pleaded guilty in federal court to helping to orchestrate a massive straw-donor campaign to help Mr. Gray defeat D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in 2010.
Mr. Gray has not been charged, and there is no indication at this point that he knew about the so-called “shadow campaign.” Not long after Harris’ guilty plea, Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. attorney for the District, told reporters that the illegal campaign schemes didn’t start in 2010 but stretched back to 2001 and involved both federal and D.C. campaigns.
The Norton campaign did not respond to emails asking whether officials had received assurances from federal prosecutors or interviewed Mr. Thompson or Harris as part of the determination that no straw donations were given to Mrs. Norton.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Patent official threatened to sue IG over damning report
- EXCLUSIVE: Head of trademark office accused of nepotism
- Coburn calls hiring of embattled background check firm 'troubling'
- Purchases of Obama books wane, except at State Department
- Iraq logistics contract goes on years after withdrawal
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Robert N. Tracci
Congress must use its appropriations power to secure the border
- Violent gang MS-13 taking advantage of immigration crisis, using border as recruiting hub
- Pentagon's self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide
- A 'new Cold War': China's top paper warns of 'slippery slope' towards conflict with U.S.
- Michelle Obama to Latinos: 'We cannot afford to wait on Congress' for immigration
- PRUDEN: 'Dirty Harry' Reids increasing eccentricity
- Obama calls GOP lawsuit over executive overreach a 'political stunt'
- Florida police spokesman tells citizens: 'Get yourself some firearms'
- Veteran with concealed weapon turns tables on Chicago gunman
- New York City creates ID card so 500K illegal immigrants can get services
- Homeland Security adviser tweets America is 'Islamic country'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq
World Cup's sexiest WAGs