Former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. on the day he pleaded guilty to theft and tax fraud in 2012.
Former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. on the day he pleaded guilty to theft and tax fraud in 2012. Credit: Darrow Montgomery/File

Erstwhile Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. announced this week that he is abandoning his campaign to regain his old seat and instead will run to become D.C.’s shadow representative to Congress.

Loose Lips applauds Thomas for his self awareness. He faced a crowded field of four other candidates and raised exactly zero ($0) dollars for his attempted return to the D.C. Council. Thomas was facing a tough sell to voters, anyway. He resigned from his Council seat in 2012 and pleaded guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of tax dollars, some of which were earmarked for youth sports teams, for which he served time in prison.

But LL boos Thomas for his incorrect understanding of citation rules. In announcing his run for shadow rep, Thomas released some campaign literature that includes a verbatim section of a Georgetown Voice editorial from September. The copied section (see p. 2 here) does not appear in quotations and there is no clear indication that the words were taken from the Voice. The editorial is listed in the “References and credits” section at the end of Thomas’ pamphlet, but that’s not really how citations work.

Thomas says he had no intention of plagiarizing and tells LL that he’ll make the appropriate corrections.

“I don’t want anybody thinking I’m trying to steal their work,” Thomas says. “I was trying to give credit to a great piece of work. It was never my intent to not credit the group, and that group of young journalists did an excellent job framing statehood in that article.”

Thomas says he decided to run for shadow rep because of the renewed focus the Jan. 6 insurrection defendants have brought to the D.C. Jail.

“It really ticked me off to see that privileged individuals are incarcerated and so now we must do something about the jail when our residents have been living there in dismal conditions,” he says.

Thomas intends to endorse a candidate in the Ward 5 race, but he’s not saying who just yet. He notes in an interview with LL that the ward has never had a female councilmember, but he insists that’s not a hint. Faith Gibson Hubbard is the only woman in the race. She’s running against former Ward 5 and At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, Ward 5 State Board of Education Rep. Zachary Parker, and chair of the Ward 5 Dems and ANC Commissioner Gordon-Andrew Fletcher.

D.C.’s shadow reps are unpaid, nonvoting members of Congress. Oye Owolewa, the incumbent, has filed paperwork to run to re-election.