Unlike federal prosecutors, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton hasn’t found anything fishy about donations her campaign received from people tied to Jeffrey Thompson.
Last year, she claimed that none of the donations were suspect, even as Thompson friend and Norton donor Jeanne Clarke Harris admitted to being a straw donor. Earlier this week, her campaign refused to say what it would do with money from Lee A. Calhoun, when Calhoun was set to plead guilty to making straw donations.
Now that donations to her own campaign are the subject of a federal court case, though, Norton’s getting rid of the money.
In a press release sent out early this morning, Norton’s campaign said it would give DC Vote $4,600—the amount given by Pennsylvania businessman Stanley Straughter, charged yesterday with making straw donations to Norton’s re-election, and his wife. Norton’s campaign will also donate contributions from Calhoun and his wife, adding up to a combined $20,000 for the voting rights advocates. Norton’s campaign says it also will donate the amount of any contributions that are later found to be illegal.
It’s an abrupt change for a campaign that, last July, was claiming that it had “verified the legality of all Norton contributions” again after the Thompson scandal broke; Norton had said she wouldn’t return any donations. A spokeswoman for Norton’s campaign declined to say how the “verification” process worked, and whether Straughter’s criminal information throws that into doubt.
Norton’s full press release:
The campaign learned this evening from press reports that a person name Stanley Straughter has been charged in a criminal information with making contributions in violation of the law to a senatorial campaign and to a campaign for the House of Representatives. We searched our records and found that the Congresswoman received $2,300 from Stanley Straughter and $2,300 from Rene Straughter, his wife in 2010. The Congresswoman has, therefore, instructed the campaign to donate $4,600 to D.C. Vote, representing the $2,300 from Stanley Straughter and the $2,300 from Rene Straughter, although she has not been charged.
Because another person, Lee Calhoun, pled guilty today to a misdemeanor campaign finance violation, including a total of $53,400 in federal political contributions between 2002 and 2011, the campaign further searched its records and found that Lee Calhoun and Michelle Calhoun made contributions to the Norton campaign during that period. The Congresswoman has, therefore, directed the campaign to donate $15,400 to D.C. Vote.
Further, last year, on July 25, 2012, the Norton campaign contributed $2,300 to D.C. Vote, based on criminal information filed in the Federal District Court here on July 10, 2012 stating that Eugenia Harris had been personally reimbursed for $14,600 in total federal contributions in 2008. The contribution to D.C. Vote reflected a check for the $2,300 Eugenia Harris gave to the Norton campaign the same year.
If there is further information concerning campaign contributions to the Norton campaign that are found to be in violation of law, the campaign will continue to donate equivalent amounts to charity.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery