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Md. man tied to D.C. campaign finance scheme charged as straw donor
Question of the Day
A Maryland man with business ties to a prolific political donor at the center of a widespread D.C. campaign finance investigation was charged Thursday with making a straw donation in a House of Representatives race.
Federal prosecutors charged Lee Calhoun, a principal at Bazilio Cobb Associates, with one misdemeanor count of making contributions in the name of another, a charge to which he plans to plead guilty.
"There is a guilty plea scheduled for Thursday," Mr. Calhoun's attorney, Edward B. MacMahon Jr., said, referring to a hearing scheduled for next week.
Court documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District indicate Mr. Calhoun made contributions between $2,000 and $10,000 to a campaign on behalf of a person who was the "chairman and chief executive officer" and majority owner of the company for whom he worked.
Jeffrey E. Thompson, the man at the center of the larger campaign finance investigation, was previously a partner and primary owner at the accounting firm and while not named in the court documents, matches the description.
The federal prosecutors' probe includes the donation of at least $650,000 in unreported funds used in D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray's 2010 mayoral campaign. That money is believed to have come from Mr. Thompson. He has not been criminally charged.
Mr. MacMahon declined to discuss his client's role in the wider investigation.
Prosecutors did not name the recipient of the donations from which the charge originated but said the contribution — made in the names of both Mr. Calhoun and his wife — was made in 2011 to a federal committee campaign for a candidate running for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Since 2001, Mr. Calhoun has donated more than $32,000 to local D.C. campaigns and another $47,000 to federal campaigns and political committees. His wife, Michelle Calhoun, has donated nearly $33,000 to federal campaigns and political committees and just more than $35,000 to D.C. campaigns over the same period.
The only federal campaign that either Mr. or Mrs. Calhoun donated to in 2011 was to that of Rep. Donna M. Christensen, Virgin Islands Democrat, who was running for re-election. Each gave $2,300, according to federal campaign finance records. The Associated Press reported last year that Mr. Thompson's old accounting firm — formerly known as Thompson, Bazilio, Cobb & Associates, which he left last year — has a $6.3 million auditing contract with the Virgin Islands government.
A federal investigation into the Gray campaign is ongoing. The investigation has thus far revealed at least $650,000 in unreported campaign funds believed to have come from Mr. Thompson, who, in addition to the accounting firm, held a lucrative Medicaid contract with the District through his company D.C. Chartered Health.
So far, three Gray campaign aides have pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the probe.
Note: An earlier version of this report stated that Mr. Calhoun was the first person in the Thompson network to be charged as a straw donor. The mistake has since been corrected.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Andrea Noble is a crime and public safety reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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