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Shadow campaigns aren’t just for local politicians anymore, according to today’s guilty plea from street team operator Troy White. In U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today, White said a man resembling embattled District campaign financier Jeff Thompson operated a shadow campaign-style effort to aid Hillary Clinton‘s 2008 run.
White’s plea also points to possible coordination between a presidential campaign and the street team allegedly funded by Thompson on everything from stickers and lawn signs to campaign events.
White pleaded guilty to failing to file corporate tax forms on behalf of his company, including more than $600,000 he allegedly received from an executive resembling Thompson to operate street teams for an unnamed presidential campaign.
In January 2008, White approached the presidential campaign with a pitch to run street teams on their behalf during the primary season. He began corresponding with a D.C. resident in the Clinton campaign described as Individual A who said that they couldn’t fund the street teams themselves, but could possibly find money elsewhere.
“I am piping up saying we need your services,” Individual 1 wrote in an email also sent to a senior official on the campaign, according to White’s statement of offense. “Let’s [find] some money. I will fight for it.”
Individual A introduced White to Executive A, whose description matches Thompson’s. Thompson allegedly agreed to fund White’s street teams to help their candidate in the Texas primaries and caucuses in March 2008, according to the statement of offense.
Thompson allegedly paid for the operation by taking money from Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio, & Associates, his accounting firm; and D.C. Healthcare Systems Inc. DCHSI was a holding company that counted District Medicaid contractor Chartered under its corporations.
After the money left Thompson’s companies, it allegedly went through Belle International, a company operated by Thompson associate and confessed Vince Gray shadow campaign worker Jeanne Clarke Harris. For example, Belle received $134,000 from TCBA on February 27, 2008, for example, and White’s company received $133,250 the same day.
White received help from a person described as Individual B, an Austin resident; and Individual C, a San Antonio resident. Individual C employed an unnamed 501(c)(4) civic organization to recruit street team members in smaller Texas cities like Brownsville and McAllen, according to the statement of offense.
White’s street teams handed out pamphlets, stickers, posters, and lawn signs provided by the legitimate campaign in major cities like Dallas and Houston, according to White’s court testimony. Using inside campaign scheduling information from Individual A, they also showed up at events to support one of the candidate’s surrogates.
After the Texas primary, which Clinton won, Thompson allegedly decided to retain the street team for future primaries in 2008, including Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico, according to the statement of offense.
“The team that had been put together in Texas sort of moved to these other elections, is that correct?” Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly asked White.
“Yes, your honor,” White said.
The transfers between corporations resembling TCBA and DCHSI to Belle, and then from Belle to White’s company, continued. In total, White received $608,750 for the primary operation from Thompson, according to the statement of offense.
White, who is seeking to receive credit for providing “substantial assistance” to investigators, has his sentencing scheduled for Dec. 16. His attorney declined to comment.
Update, 11:00 p.m.: Lyn Utrecht, a lawyer for Hillary Clinton‘s 2008 campaign, confirms in a statement that Clinton’s campaign is the unnamed campaign in White’s statement of offense.
Photo courtesy Charles Parsons