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As the federal investigation into the beneficiaries of admitted shadow campaigner Jeff Thompson continues, one of the hardest parts to follow has been Thompson’s fight to stop the government from reviewing 23 million pages of his files.
Even after the former city contractor gave up the legal challenge to protect the documents federal agents seized from his house and accounting firm, the files related to his attempt to protect the information have remained sealed. While U.S. Attorney Ron Machen won the dispute, Machen still declined to say publicly whether he had the documents.
So imagine LL’s excitement when he found a court order that unsealed the docket sheet in the case last month. Finally, everyone could see Thompson’s lawyers and prosecutors talking about what he had in his files—-which, given how many admitted shadow campaign recipients documented their crimes, should be pretty interesting.
Except, as it turns out, that’s all that the judge unsealed. The actual motions and opinions in Thompson’s legal battle—-save one that was released last year—-remain under seal. Given that they could stay that way until people forget who Jeff Thompson was and what he had to do with D.C. politics, here’s a look at the docket, which features legal maneuvers that one judge described as threatening to “grind the government’s efforts to a halt.”
Thompson’s attorney filed a motion to get his files back on April 2, 2012, weeks after his house and office were searched by the FBI. Motions between Thompson’s camp and the U.S. Attorney’s Office followed until May 3, 2012, when Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled against Thompson’s attempt to protect his documents, even after Machen had agreed to certain terms for reviewing the files.
Thompson’s attorneys tried multiple times to stop agents from seeing the files while they appealed, but Lamberth rejected their attempt on May 18, 2012. Thompson tried to appeal his case to the Supreme Court, but dropped the fight as part of his March 2014 plea deal.
It’s not clear when the real goods in the case will be unsealed. U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Bill Miller tells LL that he doesn’t know when the government will finally put the now-more-than-2-year-old case in the public record, but says he doesn’t think it will be anytime soon.
Tight-lipped Thompson attorney Brendan Sullivan, meanwhile, didn’t respond to LL’s request for comment.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery