City Paper is not for tourists
Last year, when LL first started looking at medicaid contractorJeff Thompson‘s political giving, At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, who is at the top of Thompson’s money list, wouldn’t return LL’s calls. When the Washington Post did its own profile of Thompson a few weeks later, Orange told the paper, “I’m not talking about Jeff Thompson.”
But after Thompson’s home and offices were raided by the feds as part of an investigation into possible campaign finance violations, Orange had a change of heart. After a review of Thompson’s contributions to his campaign in last year’s special election, Orange said a number of donations linked to Thompson were “suspicious.” Orange released copies of those suspicious money order donations to the Post, but ducked LL’s requests for the same copies for a couple weeks. (LL was able to get some money orders on his own from the Office of Campaign Finance.)
LL was finally able to get a hold of all of Orange’s money orders through a friend late Friday. A review certainly reinforces the notion that these donations are suspicious, but LL thought you should see for yourself, sweet readers.
First, let’s look at six money orders from Thompson’s various LLCs. The money orders were bought in batches at two Western Union agents just minutes apart, around 7 p.m. on March 10, 2011. The signatures on the money orders looks identical to Thompson’s signature on other city records.
Now let’s look at four other money orders that were bought at the same stores at the same time as the Thompson-LLC-purchased money orders. The handwriting making the orders out looks very, very similar to the Thompson money orders, though the signatures look different. But LL’s no handwriting expert, so see for yourself.
These first two money orders say they are from Ten 2 One Productions, an Los Angeles-based production company. The signature on the money orders appears to belong to Phil Thornton, a co-owner of Ten 2 One. Thornton’s online bio says he’s co-founder of Bright Star Entertainment, a frequent D.C. political contributor whose address is listed on campaign records as being the same as Thompson’s D.C. accounting firm.
The same day these money orders were purchased, Thornton gave Orange’s campaign $1,000 via credit card. Two other entities also gave $1,000 credit card donations from the same address as Thornton’s L.A. home. One is Savannah Productions, a company owned by Thornton. The other is Dezman Humphrey, who lists himself in campaign finance forms as an engineer at Boeing. Reached for comment, Thornton told LL: “I told you the last time you called to leave me the fuck alone. Don’t call me again.”
The two donations above are from Edgar Sams, a recreation specialist at Columbia Heights Community Center. The handwriting, again, looks similar. He did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Sams’ salary, which is public because he’s a city employee, is $38,843 a year, which makes his $1,000 donation to Orange especially generous.
And here are three more suspicious money orders, all purchased from the same clerk at the same post office on the same day. (They’re not signed, so LL can’t play amateur handwriting analyst.) The money orders say they are from a security guard in Silver Spring, an interior design assistant in Atlanta, and the manager of a stationary store in San Francisco. None of the donors returned a call seeking comment. One of the givers, Alexia Butts, is the niece of Jeanne Harris, a long-time Thompson associate whose house was also raided by the feds.