- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
- L.A. sheriff admits to testing flyover spy program without notifying residents
Gray probe widens as big donor’s associate charged
Action points to ‘co-conspirator’
Federal prosecutors on Monday accelerated their ongoing probe into Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s 2010 campaign by charging an associate of one of the District of Columbia’s most prolific political contributors.
Court papers accuse Jeanne C. Harris, a city resident and business owner, of conspiring to make “straw donations” to political campaigns, including $44,000 that appears to have been given to Mr. Gray’s heavily scrutinized bid to unseat Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. Prosecutors say Ms. Harris culled maximum donations from family members, friends and associates that were later reimbursed by a co-conspirator.
The development suggests that prosecutors are shifting their focus to Jeffrey E. Thompson, a well-known accountant and prolific political contributor who has leveraged a wide network of associates to donate to the campaigns of almost every sitting politician in the District.
Mr. Thompson, who has not been charged with any crimes, has been viewed for months as a key figure in U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.’s wide-ranging probe into campaign finance issues in the District, which recently produced guilty pleas from two Gray aides who said they paid minor mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown in hopes he would continue verbal attacks on Mr. Fenty on the campaign trail.
But the charges against Ms. Harris signal new horizons for the federal probe that has dogged Mr. Gray’s first term and speak to wider concerns about the influence that campaign contributors wield over officials at city hall.
Ms. Harris is scheduled to appear in federal court Tuesday to answer three criminal charges - two counts of conspiracy and one count of making false statements - contained in an information, a type of charging document that typically signals a guilty plea is imminent.
Among the accusations, prosecutors say, Ms. Harris submitted a 2010 corporate tax return for one of her companies, Belle International, that improperly deducted $908,217 in political contributions that were not tax-deductible and that she understated the company’s taxable income.
Prosecutors say the co-conspirator reimbursed Ms. Harris for contributions she made, including three $2,000 donations to a 2010 mayoral campaign, widely thought to be the Gray campaign, in her name and the names of her companies, Belle and Details International.
She also arranged for 16 family members, friends and employees to contribute $2,000 each - the maximum allowed - to the campaign, which the co-conspirator reimbursed, according to charging papers.
At the time of the federal raid, Mr. Thompson was the primary owner of the accounting firm Thompson, Bazilio, Cobb & Associates and held a lucrative Medicaid contract with the District through D.C. Chartered Health. The court papers say the “co-conspirator” is the sole owner of one company and the majority owner of another.
Ms. Harris also helped incorporate Rapid Trans Services, a Thompson-affiliated company that has been a reliable source of campaign cash for city politicians over the years, according to campaign filings. The company began operations in 2008, the same year Mr. Thompson’s similarly named medical transportation company, RapidTrans Inc., gave up its license to drive passengers.
Court papers say Ms. Harris and the co-conspirator were aware of the legal limits on campaign contributions but “circumvented those limits.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Obamacare class-action suit opens a new legal front
- Most Americans OK with Obamacare contraception mandate: study
- Supreme Court upholds Michigan affirmative action ban
- Sebelius not running for Senate, HHS confirms: Report
- Red fox makes a home for himself at the White House: Report
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Kansas will nullify local regulation of guns
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Washington Redskins' 2014 schedule opens with Texans
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Georgia governor signs bill expanding gun rights
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014