Jeffrey Thompson Allegedly Funded Shadow Campaign in 2008 Democratic Primary
A guilty plea in federal court suggests that Mayor Vince Gray wasn’t the only one to get a suspicious assist from the shadowy DC businessman. By Benjamin Freed
Comments () | Published September 11, 2013
DC Mayor Vince Gray isn’t the only one to be the beneficiary of a “shadow campaign” allegedly funded by Washington businessman Jeffrey Thompson, according to evidence read today in federal court. A leading 2008 presidential candidate was on the receiving end of one, too.
Troy White, a marketing executive from New York who specializes in “street teams,” pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of failing to file corporate income taxes over a four-year period, including the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign, when his company provided its services to a major candidate paid for with money funneled through a series of corporations controlled by an individual believed to be Thompson.
Thompson is also the former accounting executive and District government contractor believed to be the source of the money behind the shadow campaign that helped elect Gray in 2010.
In pleading to the tax charge, White admitted that in his 2007 and 2008 fiscal years, his company, Wytehouse Marketing Inc., received approximately $608,750 to provide services to one of the 2008 presidential candidates over a four-month period.
The candidate who received this aid is not identified in court documents, but based on descriptions and dates of primary contests, it was either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
According to federal prosecutors' statement of offense against White, he and a DC political operative affiliated with the presidential campaign—identified in documents as "Individual A"—approached a senior adviser about hiring Wytehouse in January 2008, but were rebuffed. "Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to use the street teams. As [Individual A] knows, I am a big fan of them and used them quite a bit ... last cycle. I hope we can work together soon."
Three weeks later, it appears they did. On January 31, Individual A wrote back to White saying his services could be useful during the glut of primaries on February 5, or "Super Tuesday." "Let's find some money," the operative wrote to White and the senior campaign adviser. "I will fight for it."
Prosecutors say that shortly after that exchange, Individual A introduced White to the executive believed to be Thompson. With Clinton and Obama locked in a neck-and-neck race and with the Texas Democratic primary and caucus, prosecutors say that Thompson arranged to pay White for to get out the vote across Texas for their candidate during the March 5 contest.
According to court documents, Thompson paid White by channeling money through a series of companies. On February 27, for instance, Whytehouse received a $133,250 wire transfer from Belle International, which earlier that day got a $134,000 wire payment from a firm controlled by Thompson and identified in court as "Company A." Based on its description in court, that company appears to be Thompson's old accounting firm of Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates. Thompson last year sold his 78 percent stake in the firm, which is now called Bazilio Cobb Associates. Wytehouse received a $98,000 payment from Belle on February 29, the same day TCBA gave Belle $99,000.
Belle International is the former company of Jeanne Clarke Harris, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in connection with the investigation surrounding Gray's 2010 mayoral campaign.
While working in Texas, White was introduced to two political operatives: one in Austin, who handled the big cities like Dallas, Houston, and El Paso; and one from San Antonio, who coordinated street teams in border towns like Brownsville and McAllen. The team was apparently successful, as Thompson kept paying for them to hire street teams in subsequent primaries.
"The team that had been put together in Texas sort of moved to these other elections, is that correct?," asked Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.
"Yes, your honor," White replied.
More payments from TCBA totaling $244,500 followed during the run-ups to the April 22 Pennsylvania primary and June 1 Puerto Rico primary. A second firm, Thompson's holding company D.C. Healthcare Systems Inc., transferred another $133,000 to Wytehouse via Belle.
Thompson and his employees gave to both Clinton and Obama, though much more to the former New York senator. The Center for Public Integrity reported earlier this year that Clinton raked in $40,300 at a November 2007 fundraiser hosted by one of Thompson's companies that Clinton herself attended. Thompson also raised $14,500 for Obama during the 2008 race.
White, who will be sentenced December 16, did not answer any questions after exiting the courtroom, nor did his attorney.