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March 4, 2012

Open Secrets

Dear Secret Keepers:

It’s panic time in the District building as a result of the FBI and IRS raids on Jeffrey Thompson and Jeanne Harris. These raids aren’t conducted until after law enforcement officers already have informants who have told them exactly what they will find when they do the raids.

The consequences throughout the government will be major over the next few months, and the cockroaches are already scattering — from the candidate who has told his campaign workers (and the government official who has told his associates) to dump their cell phones and to get burn phones to replace them, to the incumbents who are realizing that shredding their own copies of financial records won’t do any good, since their donors have records, too.

WRC reporter Tom Sherwood added to the comment thread on Friday’s article in the Washington Post on the Thompson raids, “Note one poster says ‘the other shoe is about to drop.’ Folks, this is a Centipede. Look for many more shoes to drop.”

Gary Imhoff


Jeffrey Thompson, Part I
Dorothy Brizill,

On Friday, federal agents from the FBI and the IRS raided the office and home of Jeffrey E. Thompson, who owns DC Chartered Health Plan, the District’s Medicaid managed care provider, and is the chairman and CEO of the accounting firm of Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio, and Associates, Both companies have had long term, lucrative contracts with the District government, with Chartered’s contract amounting to more than $320 million annually. While the focus of the federal probe is still unclear, it is likely that the investigation will be looking not only into Thompson’s contracts with the District government but also into his considerable role in bankrolling politicians, political campaigns, and political committees over the past decade, both in the District and at the federal level.

Back in last summer, both The Washington Post and the Washington City Paper wrote long articles describing Thompson’s campaign activities. The Post article, on July 23, described Thompson in its headline as “A Low-Key District Contractor Doubles as a ‘Kingmaker,’” Alan Suderman, on June 29, wrote about Thompson as “The King of Campaign Cash,”, and said, “A review of campaign records shows that Thompson, his companies, employees at his companies, companies that do business with companies he owns, and others with some sort of link to Thompson have given $630,000 in direct campaign contributions over the past ten years. Add in contributions from Thompson and his companies to political action committee and elected officials’ constituent services funds, and the total shoots past $730,000.” The next day, June 30, Suderman wrote about “The Thompson Network Breakdown,”, and listed the local politicians who had received Thompson’s largesse over the past ten years: Mayor and Councilmember Adrian Fenty, $100,000; Mayor and Councilmember Vincent Gray, $90,000; Councilmember Vincent Orange, $99,700; Council Chair and Council Chairman Kwame Brown, $32,500; Councilmembers Michael Brown, $22,750; Phil Mendelson, $19,500; Muriel Bowser, $18,600; David Catania, $15,750; Harry Thomas, $10,000; Yvette Alexander, $9,600; Marion Barry, $8,550; Jim Graham, $8,000; Jack Evans, $4,500; Mary Cheh, $1,000; and Tommy Wells, $0 [Thompson’s network donated $13,500 to Wells’ opponent, Kelvin Robinson, instead of to Wells].

In addition to bundling reported campaign contributions, for years Thompson has been a major source of the thousands of dollars in unreported cash money that has been underwriting political campaigns, violating the District’s campaign finance laws. (Under DC law, campaigns cannot accept cash contribution over $25.) In 2010, for example, there is evidence to suggest that the Gray campaign converted some cash contributions into money orders under false contributors’ names, and those money orders were then reported in Gray’s Office of Campaign Finance filings. In recent years, however, cash funds have been used by various campaigns to fund independent expenditures and political action committees, some of which were registered with OCF, while others were not. On this point, it is interesting to note that on Friday the FBI and IRS also raided the home/office of Jeanne Harris, a longtime friend and associate of Thompson who has a public relations firm. People knowledgeable about and connected with candidates, campaign committees, political action committees, and constituent services funds in the District have said that Harris has facilitated direct transfers of cash money from Thompson and other District businesses over the years.


Red Top Meter
Rodney Smith, Capitol Hill Sporting and Apparel,

[An open letter to the District government] I respectfully request your support of a waiver concerning the red top meter requirement. I am a District of Columbia small business owner with an acute handicap. I have a disability placard that I received due to a permanent spinal cord injury (Brown-Sequard syndrome) that requires me to use a walking cane, at times two walking canes, and at other times a wheelchair. When the weather is rainy or very hot, my disability flares up and I incur excruciating pain when I am outside. I love my business and I look forward to coming to work everyday; however, enforcement of the red top meters will substantially deplete the income I earn to pay rent, business costs, and utilities.

On March 1, the District Department of Transportation will being enforcement of the Red Top Meters. While I understand and agree with the purpose of the meters — to eliminate fraud and abuse by people misusing the disability placards — it will cause me a great financial burden and economic hardship that could potentially force me to close my business. The cost of the red top meter is unbearable. At eight dollars per four hours, I would spend, on average, eighteen dollars per day, $108 per week, $432 per month, and $5,184 per year. I open for business six days a week, and my average business day consists of ten to twelve hours. My business and I would suffer irreparable financial harm if I am required to pay these astronomical fees.

As a small business and with my permanent disability, if the meter expires while I am attending to a customer, I would have to close my business and lose customers so that I can feed the red top meter. Moreover, since the same red top meter can only be used twice, I will be required to walk an unbearable distance to park or to pay an even higher meter amount if no red top meter is available. It appears that the new red top meter regulation did not consider how someone like me with a very pronounced disability would survive the cost and inconvenience of red top meter enforcement. In an effort to continue operating my business, I respectfully ask you to consider issuing me a waiver or, in the alternative, a handicapped sign to allow me to park in front of the building. Thank you in advance for your courtesy and consideration of my request.


Residents Should Contact DISB If They Encounter Faulty Non-Bank ATMs
Michelle Phipps-Evans,

[In response to message from Bryce Suderow, themail, February 29] The DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) is urging District residents to contact the agency at 727-8000 if they encounter faulty non-bank Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) at various locations around the city. DISB licenses and regulates non-bank ATMs in the District of Columbia that may be found at gas stations and other locations. Should residents have issues with money not being disbursed from an ATM, and if they are not able to resolve the issue with the operator of the ATM, they should file a complaint online at or call 727-8000, and the agency will investigate. Should the investigation uncover any errors or violations of law, DISB will take action that will continue to protect the financial interests of the residents of the District of Columbia.

Remember, DISB protects your financial interests. Call us to report fraud, to verify a financial institution, or to invite a speaker or consumer information at 727-8000. Or visit the web site at Join us on Facebook. Follow DISB’s tweets on Twitter. Check out the health reform web site at



Community Action on Nomination of Elizabeth Noel, March 7
Herbert Harris, Jr., DC Consumer Utility Board,

I invite you and your organization to join a coalition of civic and community leaders for a community action on the pending nomination of Elizabeth A. Noel to the DC Public Service Commission. The action will be held on Wednesday, March 7, 10:00-11:00 a.m., at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The purpose of the action is to demand that the city council schedule a vote on the Noel nomination, which is being blocked in committee. City Councilmember Yvette Alexander, Chairperson, Consumer Service and Public Services, has refused for six months to schedule a committee vote on the nomination because of opposition by Pepco.

Our goal is to gather a broad coalition of representatives from environmental community, civic and community organizations, organized labor, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, tenant organizations, and others from throughout the District. The PSC, a critical independent regulatory agency responsible for monitoring and regulating utility service, is operating shorthanded with only two Commissioners because this nomination has been blocked by Pepco. Pepco, the Washington Board of Trade, and the DC Chamber of Commerce all oppose the nomination and have spared no expense characterizing Mrs. Noel as anti-business because of her thirty years of service as lawyer representing consumers. The Washington Post editorial board and columnist Jonetta Rose Barras of the Washington Examiner have also been solicited to attack and discredit the nomination.

All the allegations by Pepco against the nomination have been investigated and refuted by Attorney General Irv Nathan and a special three-member panel convened to review the nomination. The panel was comprised of a Legal Scholar and two Former Chairpersons of the DC Public Service Commission. The Attorney General and the Special Panel determined there were no legal or ethical issues that would prevent Ms. Noel from effectively serving on the Public Service Commission. (Ms. Noel would have to recuse herself from some outstanding cases that are languishing before the Public Service Commission, some of which date back decades and were never closed by Public Service Commission.)

The fact is that Elizabeth A. Noel understands the statutory mandate of the DC Public Service Commission to act in the public interest. She has the experience and necessary expertise in administrative law, public utility regulation, consumer protection, environmental policy, and telecommunication law. Most importantly, she has demonstrated the highest level of public integrity. Pepco is opposing this nomination to the avoid the regulatory oversight that will hold them accountable for rates, system reliability, and performance. We have seen these tactics by being used in other states against nominees to weaken and undermine state utility commissions. If Pepco is successful in blocking this nomination, we should expect an avalanche of proposals that will shift more costs to consumers and enrich the corporation. It will also usher in a new era of corporate influence over the Public Service Commission and the tainted city council. This nomination deserves an open public vote by the city council. Our neighbors are struggling to maintain homes and jobs while utility rates continue to skyrocket. Pepco does not have the right to hand-pick the commissioners that will regulate their company and to weaken the PSC. We can not allow bad politics to prevent good government. I encourage you to share this with your members and community list servs ask them to join the action. We must make a loud and strong statement on this nomination. We also must remind the city councilmembers that they work for the people of the District of Columbia, not Pepco, the DC Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Trade, or the Washington Post. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by E-mail.


Woman’s National Democratic Club Meetings, March 8
Patricia Bitondo,

Thursday, March 8, Peter Tatian from Urban Institute, Martha Ross from Brookings. and Ed Lazere from DC Fiscal Policy Institute. How the District of Columbia has changed and how candidates will address these demographic changes. Please join us in learning how DC has evolved and changed. This is your opportunity to ask the candidates running for office in the District of Columbia how they might anticipate addressing issues in this “different DC.” Invited speakers Peter Tatian and Ed Lazere will discuss the transformations that have occurred in DC in the last decade, as evidenced by the Census 2010. This event is cosponsored by District of Columbia Ward 2 Democrats.

Invited Democratic speakers are those individuals who have announced their candidacy for DC councilmember Ward 2 and Ward 4, DC Delegate to the US House of Representatives, and DC Shadow Senator. At the Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. Bar opens at 11:30 a.m.; lunch 12:15 p.m.; lecture, presentation, Q&A: 1:00-2:00 p.m. Members $25, nonmembers $30; lecture only $10. Register at


National Building Museum Events, March 8, 12
Stacy Adamson,

At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at

Thursday, March 8, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Women of Architecture: Architecture and the Great Recession. It is difficult to exaggerate the chilling effect of the economic slowdown on architecture. A panel of female developers, architects, and design experts examines how the building industry is responding to profound challenges created by the current recession. This program is presented in March in recognition of National Women’s History Month. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at


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